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oilrigWhile a government inquiry is underway into the onshore oil and gas drilling concessions granted to start-up company Portfuel, the government has announced that offshore drilling is to start on July 1st off the Alentejo coast to the west of Aljezur.

Anti-oil campaigners have been aware that there are plans by Repsol and Partex to start drilling under the sea to the south of Faro in October but the unexpected announcement that the Galp/ENI consortium is preparing to start drilling 56.5kms off the Alentejo coast in the Santola concession in just over a month’s time has meant anti-oil campaign plans and timetables have had to be rapidly reconfigured.

GreensPortugal's Ecology Party, 'The Greens,' today launched an awareness campaign in the Algarve all about oil and gas exploration, which is, according to the party "counter-cyclical" with international environmental policies for reducing emissions and pollution.

The launch was in Aljezur with a later press conference in Tavira, the two Algarve municipalities where onshore licenses have been granted to Portfuel for natural gas and oil exploration.

moreiadasilvaThe former Minister for the Environment, Jorge Moreira da Silva, denies favouring Sousa Cintra and his company Portfuel when granting oil and gas concessions in the Algarve and has complained that he is the target of a "campaign polluted with lies."

The under pressure former politician denies giving any privilege at all to Portfuel despite the company having no background of track record in the oil business, no employees and none of the in-house expertise needed to operate an oil or gas business.

oilprotestfaroIn a major step forward for the anti-oil and anti-gas lobby in the Algarve, the Algarve Regional Development Council has expressed dismay over the government’s oil and gas aspirations for the region and wants to see investment in renewable energy technology, especially solar.

The influential Conselho Regional da Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Algarve (CCDR-Algarve), now chaired by Vítor Aleixo who also is mayor of Loulé, convened on May 19th and today issued a statement expressing its "total opposition to exploration for oil and gas in the Algarve, both on-shore and off-shore."

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.

moreiadasilvaThe committee of inquiry into the oil concession contracts, specifically the Portfuel contracts that cover the Algarve’s land mass, is to demand that the former Environment Minister Jorge Moreira da Silva (pictured) returns to explain certain misleading statements.

Today, the head of Portugal’s fuels authority Paulo Carmona made it crystal clear to the committee that concession contracts are for exploration and extraction of oil or gas found in any of the 17 blocs that are covered by the concessions, which include the two covering most of the Algarve.