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Aljezur offshore drilling 'public consultation' extended to August 3rd

oilAljezurImageThe presentation of the Algarve’s anti-oil petition to parliament on Wednesday by members of ASMAA has provoked an early result with the Minister of the Sea extending the 'Aljezur drilling' public consultation period by a month to August 3rd.

Ana Paula Vitorino published the notice to extend the period of public consultation due, she says, to concern that the subject is an important one and that there was insufficient time for people to respond and lodge their opinions.

The issue is over the drilling concession license issued to Galp/ENI which now needs an additional TUPEM license (for private use of the national maritime space) before the oil consortium can send a drilling ship into the Alentejo bay, 46 km from Aljezur.

Aljezur council has welcomed the extension which will give individuals and agencies more time in which to challenge or agree with the drilling programme.

One NGO that is certainly anti-oil and gas is PALP (Platform for a Petroleum Free Algarve) which already has lodged a highly critical opinion with the Directorate General of Natural Resources, Maritime Security and Services (DGRM) and has called on the government to scrap the whole oil concession project from drilling to extraction.

Minister Vitorino is clear that the extension of the public consultation period will delay any activity by Galp/ENI as the consortium will not be granted a TUPEM license while a public consultation is in progress, so its drilling ship, the Saipem 12000 (see picture below), remains docked in Sines. (In fact the Saipem 12000 is off to Namiba - see 'readers comments' below)

The government used the announcement of the extension to slip out some additional documents to back up the signed concession agreement, namely "Appendix 3 - Executive Summary - Oil Spill Contingency Plan Santola 1X", which, according to PALP, is of no use at all if there is an oil spill which requires a "Major Hazard Report" with risk assessment and accident prevention measures clearly described and compiled.

These additional documents as subsequent to the meeting held with members of ASMAA on the 22nd July where transparency was on the agenda and can be found here:


PALP welcomes the extension of the public consultation period but considers that the documents released only yesterday are woefully insufficient and show no effort at all by the government to take the threat of oil spillage seriously.

The government says the first stage of the contract is for exploratory drilling only so is safe. The anti-oil lobby points out that the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon environmental disaster occurred during the exploratory drilling phase.

PALP agrees that the absence of an environmental impact study and the almost lack of stated safety regulations give rise to unacceptable risk and calls upon the Prime Minister to be consistent with the commitments that the Portuguese State made at the Paris agreement on CO2 emission control and scrap all offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration.

If the government allows the oil industry to invest in a potential oil and gas industry in Portuguese waters, then the companies will have the leverage. Better to stop now and pay the contract exit costs than let this drag on and pay huge amounts in compensation later on.


Opinions can be emailed to dgrm@dgrm.mam.gov.pt or by regular mail to the Maritime Resources General Directorate, Avenida Brasília, 1449-030 Lisbon.




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