In a report in Correio da Manhã, posted early this morning on the news service's website, Galp Energia is reported to have announced that it no longer is going to drill an exploratory hole in the search for oil and gas off the Costa Vincentian, about 50 kilometers from Aljezur on Portugal's south west coast.
The drilling licence deadline expires at the end of May and an ‘official source’ at the oil company assured the national newspaper that no drilling is planned before the end of this month.
The Galp-ENI consortium already had considered abandoning or postponing its exploration plans after a request was rejected for a licence extension.
The drilling of the Aljezur test well, fiercely opposed by national and regional environmental groups, backed up by a 42,000 signature public petition, was scheduled for last summer but an extension to the public consultation period made the operation unfeasible due to poor predicted weather.
Galp successfully argued that this delay was down to the Government so the National Entity for the Fuel Market (ENMC) extended drilling authorisation to 'between April and May 2017.'
Galp-ENI has an overall concession license that is valid until January 2019. This enables the consortium “to conduct further studies in the concession area” with specific licences needed if it wants to drill test wells in the seabed.
The controversial concession was granted in 2007 and letterly has caused uproar among local councils, certain politicians and many environmental associations such as ASMAA and PALP.
There have been two legal challenges so far to Galp’s oil and gas ambitions: one from the Algarve mayors’ group AMAL and the second from Odemira council.
As if to balance bad news with good, Galp also today announced positive developments in Brazil at the Santos Basin gas and oil field where it operates through its subsidiary Petrogal Brazil and a subsidiary of Shell.
Far from scaling back operations and diverting resources to the growing renewable energy sector, Galp’s strategic plan is to have 16 production plants in operation in Brazil and Angola by 2021. This entails doubling the number of existing plants over the next five years to increase overall production by between 15% and 20% in the period 2016- 2021.
As for the Correio da Manhã news item this morning, Galp has yet to issue a formal announcement about its plans for the Aljezur test well.
Wily campaigner, Laurinda Seabra, who leads ASMAA in its highly-effective and well-planned anti-oil and gas campaign, is not fooled by Galp’s unattributed comments in today's Correio da Manhã:
“Taking into account the vote in the Portuguese parliament last week which clearly indicated the government position as being totally pro-oil exploration, ASMAA sees this announcement as nothing more than another manoeuvre in the complex game of chess currently in play between government, oil and gas companies and the public.
“It’s nothing more than an attempt by the government, in cahoots with the oil companies, to reduce the risk that voters will alter their alliance during the October 1st municipal elections and cause a shift in the balance of power in local municipalities.
“I guess that after the local elections it will be back to business as usual. In the interim we are proceeding as planned."
For an opinion on the ASMAA website, click HERE