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President Marcelo disappoints Algarve

President Marcelo disappoints AlgarveIt’s the hottest issue in the Algarve today – overriding anger about motorway tolls, the destruction of fishing communities on Ria Formosa and the threat of feldspar mining in Monchique. But for some inexplicable reason, powermakers in Lisbon are lying about it.

From the Minister of the Sea to the President of the Republic, the last week has seen lies and obfuscation over the small print of gas and oil contracts in force up and down the country reach ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ levels of lunacy.

It is as if Lisbon believes that the more an assertion is repeated, the greater the chance of people believing it.

Last Saturday’s visit to Faro by President Marcelo showed that his accomplished charm can only go so far.

When it comes to official ‘lies’ – or to put it more charitably, ‘being badly advised about government policy’ – the people are not the illiterate ignorants that our Minister of the Sea portrayed to potential investors in the US last September.

“The contracts are in place, the contracts are in place” came chants when a smiling President Marcelo insisted in front of television cameras that of the five contracts in place in the Algarve last year “only one now remains, only one!” – and that, he added, has only until the end of this year to commence drilling. This was another massive inaccuracy that anyone who has read the contracts will instantly realise. The Galp/ENI licence for drilling 46kms off Aljezur’s coastline remains active until January 2019.

As one of the least impressionable “anti”-campaigners in this fight remarked following Marcelo’s performance outside the Escola de Hotelaria on Saturday: “The president of Portugal shows that he is either very badly informed, or he is lying intentionally.

“His words on March 18 in Faro leave a lot to be desired,” said the CEO of ASMAA (Algarve Surf & Marine Activities Association), Laurinda Seabra. “They are indicative of great lack of knowledge of the material in question.

“We want to believe that this is the real reason,” Seabra added. “Because the opposite would be that the President of the Portuguese Republic lied openly to the Portuguese people.

“If this is the situation, then we have to ask ourselves: who does the president represent? The Portuguese people, or the multinationals and the oil lobbies?”

Barely had the dust settled on Marcelo’s transparent attempts to lull fellow countrymen and women into a rose-tinged sense of security, than Portimão council announced with a degree of pride and delight that it was about to host the largest Fair of the Sea in the event’s short history, to be visited by no less than Portugal’s Minister of the Sea.

The news has been seized on by anti-groups as a perfect opportunity to mark the Algarve’s disgust at the way the government has been reacting to people’s concerns.

MALP, Preservar Aljezur, Stop Petróleo Vila do Bispo and Tavira em Transição will all be in force on Friday morning to ‘welcome’ Ana Paulo Vitorino to Portimão Arena, and show her, in no uncertain terms, that the population is neither illiterate nor ignorant about contracts in place – even if she and president Marcelo appear to be.

Vitorino actually told parliament during a recent debate that the various contracts on land and sea are for “prospecting only”. Protestors will be at pains to put her right on this score too – despite the fact that they have been calling for her dismissal due to the extraordinary lack of understanding she appears to have over concessions awarded in her area of expertise.

“We will be showing documentation,” Tavira em Transição spokesperson Ângela Rosa told us. “We will be confronting the minister with the truth of the facts, and demanding an explanation on the public consultation process for Aljezur where 42,000 participations by citizens who oppose prospecting were thrown into the rubbish by the government of António Costa…”

And in case the government attempts to dismiss antagonism to “a few expat retirees living the good life in the south” (a loose translation of the explanation given by former environment minister Jorge Moreira da Silva not so long ago), this fight has now shown itself to be so much larger.

On Tuesday, Diário de Notícias carried the story that Marinha Grande has entered the fight citing the damages prospecting will wreak on “agriculture and other activities”, and explaining that “this is not about saying ‘no’ to oil in the Algarve, Peniche or Praia da Vieira. This is about saying ‘no’ to oil in Portugal”.

Spokesman Bruno Fitas told the paper: “We are surrounded by contracts. Aside from the coastline exposed to offshore contracts, there are the onshore areas, like the contract dubbed Batalha – and on land, beyond the possibility of conventional production, the contracts allow for hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ to search for oil and shale gas.”

A few years ago, ASMAA was sending frantic emails out into the ether, telling people it was “time to wake up”.

At last, people in Portugal appear to be wide awake … and kicking back.

By natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

Article by kind permission of Portugal Resident

Photos: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media Group

The response from ASMAA:

Oil Drilling in Algarve: Mr. President Shouldn't You Fire Your Advisors?

The Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, at an event on Saturday 18 March in Faro clearly demonstrated that he had to be badly briefed by his advisors on the subject of “Oil and gas exploration in the Algarve”, because the alternative is that he just blatantly lied to the Portuguese nation.

We don’t want to believe that he did so intentionally, as a result our recommendation to him is: Mr. President Fire Your Advisors please

What happened?

The Portuguese President stated categorically - you can hear in this video   - about the contracts:
1.    that only one contract was in force currently in the Algarve.
2.    that all other contracts had been cancelled, and
3.    that two new concession contracts that where due to be finalised had not been signed.

Furthermore, he went further and stated that the Galp/ENI consortium only had 8 months left to drill the first well in the Alentejo basin opposite Aljezur.

Anyone, with 5 brain cells would clearly see that the President was making statements that are not factual nor the truth.
 
So, what are the facts?

Which contracts are currently in force?
According to the ENMC website, the only contracts that appear to have been cancelled are these that where held by Portfuel. Every other one is still registered on the site as being in vigour.

Which two concession contracts where due to be signed but are said to be currently on hold?
Again, a visit to the ENMC website is in order. The only two contracts that the President could be referring to, would be the ones requested by Kosmos Energy for the Alentejo Basin. But nowhere did we find an announcement that these concessions contract award is on hold. Instead we found the following information: Deep-Offshore - Alentejo Basin: 2 Areas - Kosmos Energy LLC applied for the granting of two concessions through Direct Negotiation.

And finally, has the Galp/ENI consortium really only a further 8 months to do the drilling of the first well in the Santola concession area?
Not at all, because according to the license issued by the DGRM on 11 January 2017, it clearly states that the license is valid until 10 January 2019.
 
It is clear just by this brief analysis that President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Saturday the 18 March was relaying information that is not factual, but which through the main stream media platforms present at the event – both TV and Press – was broadcasted to millions of homes in Portugal as being the facts and being the “truth”.
 
We really wanted to believe that it was just an oversight in the part of the President and his advisors, where it not for the fact, that he is not the only one to blatantly misrepresent the facts.
 
The Minister of the Sea – Ana Paula Vitorino – on 14 March lied during a parliamentary meeting when she categorically denied that there are exploitation contracts in vigour. You can read about it here.
 
We have to ask is the President listening to the people of Portugal or is he instead listening to lobbyists for big corporations and the oil industry? We have to ask, if the President was just badly informed by his advisors or if there is indeed an orchestrated effort to mislead the Portuguese nation?

 

Comments  

-1 #3 Ed 2017-03-26 15:05
Quoting David Home:
"This is about saying ‘no’ to oil in Portugal”.
Is Portugal seriously saying No" to oil in Portugal?

Or, Is it O.K. to bring in oil from other countries?

I think it is OK toi continue toi import oil for processing and re-sale as diesel and pertol, as happens currently.
Thoughts from a non-expert: Current production fields in other countries are sufficient for demand - which anyway should reduce as Europe sources more energy from renewables.

Production from existing fields is cheaper than setting up a whole new drilling, extraction, piping, transport and service system all of which must be paid for before the Portuguese State gets a cent in royaties.There is no provision for Portugal to buy oil or gas produced in her territories at anything less than the international market rate so it may be more profitable for Galp to continue to refine and export imported oil than risk a downturn in the tourism industry from producing from Portugal's offshore and onshore reserves.
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-1 #2 David Home 2017-03-26 13:00
"This is about saying ‘no’ to oil in Portugal”.
Is Portugal seriously saying No" to oil in Portugal?

Or, Is it O.K. to bring in oil from other countries?
Quote
+2 #1 Trevor Morgan 2017-03-24 16:19
Does the president's opinion really count for anything? I seem to remember a certain Cavaco Silva being openly opposed to the tolls on the A22, what happened there?
Quote