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sousacintraA victory in one battle at least as environmental pressure groups have managed to have the suspect drilling work halted at Perdigão, Aljezur.

The Portuguese Environment Agency issued the suspension today after a site visit in Perdigão thus calling a halt to the activities of Domus Verde Imobiliarios Empreendimentos, owned by local businessman Sousa Cintra (pictured) whose Portufuel company has the oil and gas drilling rights over much of the Algarve’s land.

oilonshorerigPressure from the Algarve’s mayors and anti-oil and gas action groups seem to be having the desired effect as rumours echo through the corridors of power in Lisbon that the Portfuel concessions to explore across much of the region’s territory may be withdrawn.

The government may have found the excuse needed to halt onshore drilling as Portufuel may not have the necessary insurance covers as required under its contract, nor does it have a clean three year technical and financial record as required in order to fulfil the contractual terms.

oilrigThe Galp/Eni oil consortium recently announced that it will start oil exploration off the coast of Alentejo this summer, with a first exploratory well to be drilled about 80 kilometres off Sines.

This development has led environmental group Quercus to go public and warn of the potential "overwhelming consequences' that an accident will cause to the environment.

oilprotestministerAt the silent protest against oil and gas exploration in the Algarve, the Secretary of State for Environment, Dr Carlos Martins (pictured) was handed a letter inviting him to visit Aljezur.

The March 24th demonstration was held as the Secretary of State opened a new sewage treatment plant at Vila do Bispo. There were over 150 demonstrators, adults and children, from Lagos, Odeceixe, Aljezur and the Vila do Bispo areas.

oilrig2PALP is to meet the Secretary of State for the Environment in Lisbon and a delegation will be heard by the Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, Spatial Planning, Decentralisation, Local Government and Housing.

The Free Algarve from Petroleum Platform (PALP) will meet the Secretary of State for the Environment on March 28th and on March 30th will be received in the Assembly the Republic under the petition request law. (see below)

oilrig2As the Minister of the Sea visited the Algarve last week, offering funding for projects related to the Algarve's new 'Blue Economy,' she failed to mention full details of where the new money would be coming from.

It turns out that the Blue Economy fund, about which she spoke so compellingly as the answer to many of the Algarve’s problems of low investment levels, will be supported by the very oil and gas industry which threatens the Algarve's onshore and offshore environments.

oilblocsalgarveThe Algarve mayors group, AMAL, decided as one to take the anti-oil fight to Portugal’s courts to get the exploration licences covering onshore blocks annulled.

Transcending party lines, the mayors have spoken to the government since announcing their objection to the oil and gas exploration licensing and were not impressed with the negative response to their legitimate concerns.

biofuelProtesters against oil exploration, biofuel development and GM crops in Portugal manageed to evade security and gain access to a conference on Monday, organised by National Authority for the Fuel Market (ENMC) at Lisbon's Gulbenkian Foundation.

The group of ten demonstrators interrupted the ‘biofuels market’ discussion at the Gulbenkian Foundation and later were questioned by tolerant PSP officers who had been called by Gulbenkian staff."

We are here to protest against oil and gas exploration in Portugal, both on land and at sea," said Vítor, one of the ten who took to the stage holding a banner and distributed leaflets to surprised delegates.