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Portfuel takes out press adverts to explain its case in Algarve oil and gas row

sousacintraSousa Cintra, (pictured) the Algarve entrepreneur, millionaire and owner of controversial oil exploration company Portfuel has taken out a series of display advertisements in national and regional newspapers to explain his position on drilling in the Algarve.

Portfuel mysteriously won two concessions, to look for oil and gas across the Algarve in two blocks covering 300,000 hectares, despite having no experience in oil and gas and having no employees.

The agreements signed last September give Portfuel the sole rights to explore and extract any oil or gas lying beneath the country’s premiere tourist zone and have caused much local protest.

Such has been the strength of local activists, business groups, the region’s mayors and concerned members of the public that the concession process is being unpicked by a parliamentary committee of inquiry and the government already has asked for a legal opinion to see if it can tear up the deals.

Secretary of State for Energy Jorge Seguro Sanches has received a report on the Portfuel affair from the National Fuels Authority and said he wanted to "withdraw without paying compensation."

Seguro has asked for an opinion from the Attorney General on the validity of the contracts signed by former minister Moreira da Silva.

In his defence, Sousa Cintra says in newsprint that "it is crucial to clarify that Portfuel is one of the 15 currently existing concession holders in Portugal, which may prospect and search for oil and gas."

"Portfuel is contributing to the geological mapping of the Portuguese territory and is only doing research and surveying as it is not allowed to do any exploration work or production without the prior authorisation of Portugal’s National Fuels Authority," reads the clarification.

"As regards the legal requirements, Portfuel fulfills all the required conditions," states Sousa Cintra despite the president of the National Fuels Authority, Paulo Carmona saying yesterday that there are good reasons to terminate the oil and gas exploration contracts with Sousa Cintra as he has failed to follow the steps necessary and provide certain guarantees and documentation.

Carmona, speaking at the parliamentary committee of inquiry called by the ruling Socialist Party, said "there are weaknesses in the performance of the contract" and found "a difficult situation to accept, especially due to repeated delays in the delivery of documentation and an insurance document from a company that is not recognised."



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