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July 1st Aljezur oil drilling - ZERO calls for an immediate ban

oilgungePortugal's environmental organisation ZERO has called on the government to suspend the current public consultation for oil exploration off the Alentejo coast and has listed five reasons why exploration for oil and gas off the Alentejo and Algarve coastlines should not go ahead.

The current public consultation period for the proposed July 1st start of drilling activity off the Alentejo coastline runs until this Wednesday, June 22nd.

The public consultation Notice No. 5/2016 from the General Directorate of Natural Resources, Security and Maritime Services concerns the allocation of a TUPEM license to enable the Galp/ENI consortium to use a survey ship and drill in the deep offshore zone of the Alentejo Basin.

This activity is under an existing concession agreement assigned to Galp/ENI and signed by the Portuguese State for the exploration rights, research, development and production of oil in the Santola offshore block.

ZERO, the Association for Sustainable Land Systems, has looked at the environmental studies available for the two proposed exploration areas in the Alentejo basin (for oil exploration by ENI/Galp) and the Algarve Basin (for natural gas by Repsol/Partex) and lists below five reasons why this process should not go ahead.

Zero calls on the government, in particular the ministries of the sea, of the environment and of the economy, not to commit to the environmental risks, the extremely high financial costs for later scrapping the concession agreements, and the considerable social costs involved in a proposed development that already is nine years old and for which the initial assumptions no longer are relevant.
1.  The public studies and consultations clearly are insufficient.

ENI/Galp proposed to move forward with drilling a well at the beginning of July at a site about 44 kms from the Alentejo’s Costa Vicentina.

Having studied the "environmental report for exploration activities in the Alentejo Basin" delivered in April 2015, and the "environmental study, social and health for a research hole in the Lagosta and Lagostim blocks" by Repsol/Partex (November 2013), it is clear that there is no monitoring plan or environmental management plan for each of the three phases of commissioning and positioning, drilling and decommissioning; there are no risk assessment plans in the event of a small or large spillage, there is no detail given of the area that will be affected by the drilling and there is no comprehensive contingency plan, which we believe exists, but is an essential element needed for public analysis.

2. The 'high cost of exploration' will be used by the government and the consortia in the future, to justify continuing the oil industry programme in the face of any political move to halt it.

The research drilling is budgeted to cost €60 million over two months. It is possible that in the context of an arbitration tribunal, if the government decides politically that oil exploration is not the way forward for a country that advocates a low-carbon strategy, the amount of damages will be much higher later than if the drilling licenses are suspended now to enable a more transparent evaluation, discussion and decision to be made.

3 - Compliance with offshore oil and gas safety legislation

Various decree laws have correctly been adopted by the Portuguese government from EU legislation covering the safety of offshore oil and gas operations. All of these laws arise from the need to ensure a high level of safety and determine a set of preventive measures to reduce as much as possible the occurrence of major accidents related to offshore oil and gas operations and to limit their consequences.

Legislation implies the delivery of a detailed set of documentation to the General Directorate of Natural Resources, the Maritime Security Services (DGRM) and the National Authority for the Fuel Market (ENMC) and it is essential for the public to know whether the documentation has been delivered and what the content is.

4. The exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in Portugal is NOT compatible with the European Energy and Climate Policy, and the Paris Agreement.

The European Union adopted the forward thinking 'low-carbon economy' model for all sectors of the economy. In this view there are two goals for the medium and for long term: a target for 2030 reflecting the contribution of EU states to the Paris Agreement, and another target for 2050.

Therefore, European countries must transition to economies based on high levels of energy efficiency and on renewable energy sources, i.e. to replace and stop the use of fossil fuels. This is a fundamental pillar of the fight against climate change.

The European Union recognises that fossil fuels should no longer be used and therefore it is pointless searching for them. In the current European framework there is no room for a future supported by new oil and gas exploration and production projects.

5.  Risk, however small, still exists and isn’t worth it

The exploration and production of hydrocarbons has a small potential risk, but this risk is very significant and highly negative in the case of an accident affecting the surrounding natural systems and dependent economies such as tourism and artisanal fisheries.

An extensive history of accidents, regardless of the technologies used, has shown there is a significant potential impact associated with hydrocarbon exploration.

ZERO calls for greater transparency and believes potentially that there has been a breach of European legislation.

ZERO does not understand why all the documentation, including environmental studies requested by the General Directorate of Energy and Geology of each of the consortia and held by the National Authority for the Fuel Market, is not available to the public on the internet.

Publication of the studies would allow a reasoned and open review of the documents and procedures by organisations and members of the public that wish to comment. This lack of transparency has been the trademark throughout the concession licensing process.

ZERO believes also that potentially there has been a breach of EU directives as over the past ten years offshore oil and gas safety legislation has tightened and the concession holders may be working to outdated rules. 

ZERO will ask the European Commission further clarification.


email: zero@zero.ong

ZERO - Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável

Rua Alexandre Herculano, 371 4º dto
4000-055 Porto - Portugal


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+1 #1 bigbrotheriswatching 2016-06-21 07:35
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