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Algarve unites - 'a state of war' will exisit if oil contracts are not scrapped

OilReferendumSMALLThe Algarve will enter 'a state of war' with the government if the State insists on continuing to aid Galp-ENI in its plan to sink a test well off Aljezur and fails to scrap all current oil and gas exploration concessions and licences. 
 
An explosive meeting today saw the region’s mayors, joined by the mayor of Odemira in the lower Alentejo, join forces with the Algarve’s ‘Big Five’ business associations, leaders from environmental associations and pressure groups, and several personalities, to call a halt to the government’s strategy to assist oil companies with their exploration and drilling contracts.
 
The meeting in Loulé consolidated the region’s anti-oil stance and culminated in a strong statement, accompanied by the threat of open hostilities should the government continue to facilitate oil and gas exploration and future extraction.
 
A meeting has been demanded with the Prime Minister, António Costa, “as a matter of urgency,” with the mayors deciding to send in their heaviest hitter, José Amarelinho, the mayor of Aljezur, whose council area potentially will be the most affected by the energy consortium’s springtime drilling plans.  
 
The government has said that the drilling off Aljezur will not go ahead until an environmental impact assessment, commissioned and paid for by the oil companies, has been reviewed. This sop is wholly insufficient to ensure the anti-oil movement sits quietly and waits. The government’s overt collaboration with the oil companies to date, had done nothing to persuade those involved that the State will follow its own rules.
 
José Amarelinho stated with his customary clarity, "The Government has to listen to us. This test well will not happen."
 
Joaquina Matos, Mayor of Lagos, said the government has brought this situation on itself and a state of war will exists if António Costa does not cancel the existing contracts.
 
The meeting’s attendees agrees that the obvious solution is for the government to move swiftly to a strong renewable energy policy that will reduce CO2 emissions, in accord with existing international agreements, and use Portugal’s natural market advantages of sun, wind and sea.
 
Vítor Neto, the president of business group NERA, said the Algarve needs calm, a clean environment and economic dynamism if it is to succeed. Even Desidério Silva, from the region’s tourist board, has come out in favour of scrapping the government’s oil exploration ambitions, stating that "any negative news, such as the intention to drill for oil off the Algarve,” would be seized upon by the region’s tourism competitors.
 
Looking at the financial side of the oil exploration and extraction situation, filmmaker, António-Pedro Vasconcelos, said that “even if the oil exploration revenues were fantastic, we should continue to be against it. And it's not out of fanaticism. There are things that are harmful in and of themselves, which the country should not accept."
 
Even the most optimistic scenario for revenues accruing to the State already has been trashed by the renowned economist, Ricardo Paes Mamede, who said oil related licensing and royalty revenues would have little impact on GDP and that the environmental risk was too high.
 
There is demonstration planned for Friday morning outside the court in Loulé. Inside the court, anti-oil associations will be putting the case for cancelling the contracts, while in the afternoon, the Ministry of the Sea will be putting its case forward as to why the Galp-ENI consortium should be allowed to continue with its drilling plans under the terms of the concession contract and subsequently issued licence and extension.
 
The following statement (roughly translated) was agreed and will be sent to government:
 
The Secretary of State for Energy, Dr. Jorge Seguro Sanches, on 8 January, took the decision to extend the oil research contract of the ENI / Galp consortium in the "Lavagante", "Santola" and "Gamba" concessions in the Atlantic Ocean, until the end of 2018, which includes the drilling of a prospecting hole about 40 kilometers west of Aljezur, which the ENI / GALP consortium announces for May 2018.
 
The Algarve and Alentejo municipalities, the Algarve business associations, the Algarve Tourism Region, together with associations and civil society movements that have always been against oil prospecting in Portugal, consider that, for political and legal reasons , do not accept that the announced prospecting progress for the following reasons:
 
Consultation with coastal municipalities associated with the offshore exploration site, in compliance with Law 82/2017, of August 18, resulted in a unanimous and clear refusal to carry out the drilling offshore Aljezur; it is from the most elementary justice, and in compliance with the spirit of the law, that political power respects the decision of the local authorities; moreover, during the public consultation of the attribution of the respective TUPEM (Title of Private Use of Maritime Space), the State has disregarded the opinion of the more than 40,000 citizens who declared against its attribution in a clear manifestation of repudiation of this activity in the Portuguese coast; Government and democracy are very bad if, in succession, it does exactly the opposite of what the public consultations reveal. We consider that in a state of law that presses for democratic processes, there are no political conditions to support the hole off Aljezur.
 
Law No. 37/2017, of June 2, requires an environmental impact assessment to be carried out for hydrocarbon research, considering that "no administrative permission can be given for the transition to subsequent phases of activity provided for in Decree-Law no. 109/94, of April 26, in the context of contracts already concluded or licenses granted, without complying with the obligations provided for in this law and in the legal framework of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), without prejudice to compliance with the other legal or contractually established obligations ". We consider it a legal requirement to carry out the EIA of the activities associated with the prospecting hole planned for about 40 km west of Aljezur.
 
The EIA conveys security and transparency, due to the technicality it implies and the publicity it presupposes; at the stage of discussion of the problem of oil exploration in Portugal, it is of the utmost political expediency to provide this instrument. The deadlines for carrying out the EIA including the necessary public discussion are not compatible with the achievement of the hole in the coming months, as already announced by the consortium;
 
The assessment of an injunction filed by PALP - Algarve Free Petroleum Platform is still ongoing in the respective court, and its outcome is awaited; moreover, this contradicts the arguments made by the Secretary of State for Energy, who used it to justify its decision. We consider that there are no legal conditions for the hole to advance.
 
The decision of the Secretary of State for Energy was absolutely regrettable and incomprehensible because he wasted a unique opportunity to cancel once and for all a wrong and damaging option for the country for the following reasons:
 
a. the exploration activity off Aljezur and its future exploitation of hydrocarbons would imply objective risks for the whole coastal strip, compromising the environmental and ecological wealth, namely fish stocks, which would alter the development paradigm of the region, placing various activities, such as tourism and fishing, among others.
 
b. the exploration activity off Aljezur and its future exploitation of hydrocarbons would irreparably jeopardize the image of excellence that tourism has in the region and which has been so important for the country's economic recovery.
 
c. In addition, the oil and gas exploration contracts following the exploration activity are not a good deal for Portugal, not only because the exploitation profits would belong entirely to the oil companies involved and expatriates, as not only the capital involved is mainly foreign, as the revenues foreseen for Portugal are insignificant. Moreover, in the event of a serious environmental accident (an extreme scenario that can not be ruled out), the national economy - including the public and private sectors - would have to bear large costs and revenue losses in tourism, fishing and other activities.
 
d. in addition, we are wasting precious time to capture investment for the renewable energy sector, which is profitable and creates employment and in which the country already has an internationally recognized track record.
 
e. in short, it is an unjustifiable decision because it is contrary to the public interest.
 
The decision announced by the Prime Minister, Dr. António Costa, in 2016 at the Marrakesh Climate Conference to make the Portuguese economy evolve towards a CO2-free economy by 2050, and the subsequent work on the preparation of the Roadmap for Carbon Neutrality Portuguese economy up to 2050 which is currently being developed (http://descarbonizar2050.pt), albeit financed by the Ministry of the Environment, goes in a completely opposite direction to what the Secretary of State for Energy's decision presupposes. The Portuguese Government can not at the same time work for an emission-free economy and give the green light to activities that are responsible for worsening the greenhouse effect, not respecting the International Agreements that it has ratified. There is therefore no political coherence in the decision of the Secretary of State for Energy, which belies and contradicts the statements and decisions of the Prime Minister.
 
Thus, the municipalities, business associations, Algarve Tourism Region, associations and civil society movements, meeting in Loulé on 22 February, also consider that the decision taken by the Secretary of State for Energy is unacceptable and burdensome for the reasons submitted, require the immediate cancellation of the authorization given for the drilling off Aljezur.
 
This text will be formally sent to the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Environment and Minister of Economy. The group of mayors, environmental and business associations and other movements are going to ask today for a hearing to the Prime Minister as a matter of urgency.
 
Loulé, February 22, 2018
 
 
ACRAL – Associação do Comércio e Serviços do Algarve
AHETA - Associação de Hotéis e Empreendimentos Turísticos do Algarve
AIHSA – Associação dos Industriais de Hotelaria e Similares do Algarve
ALA – Alentejo Litoral pelo Ambiente
Almargem
ASMAA - Algarve Surf And Marine Activities Association
Associação A ROCHA
Baixo Guadiana Renovável
CEAL – Confederação de Empresários do Algarve
Climáximo
Futuro Limpo
Grupo STOP Petróleo Vila do Bispo
MALP – Movimento Algarve Livre de Petróleo
NERA – Núcleo Empresarial da Região do Algarve
PALP – Plataforma Algarve Livre de Petróleo
Preservar Aljezur
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Albufeira
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Alcoutim
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Aljezur
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Castro Marim
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Faro
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Lagoa
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Lagos
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Loulé
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Odemira
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de Olhão
Presidente da Câmara Municipal de São Brás de Alportel
Presidente da Junta de Freguesia de Vila Nova de Milfontes
Presidente da Região de Turismo do Algarve
Quercus – Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza
Tavira em Transição
The Climate Reality Project em Portugal
ZERO – Associação Sistema Terrestre Sustentável
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Comments  

0 #3 Jane D 2018-02-25 11:21
The situation is a lot more complex. Its a well known fact that Vila do Bispo is pro-oil drilling, and some of the ones that were there will go were the wind is stronger. Currently the only two that have been consistent are Aljezur & the president of Milfontes freguesia - the rest are politicians looking after their own interests (pockets/political careers)
+1 #2 Peter Booker 2018-02-24 10:45
Does this impressive list show all of the signatories?

There are five Câmaras which appear not to be present - Monchique, Portimão, Silves, Tavira, Vila do Bispo and VRSA.

The Presidentes of the Câmaras appear not to be unanimous.
0 #1 liveaboard 2018-02-23 14:08
It seems our local politicians actually try to do their voter's work; let's hope they prevail on this one.

It's time to stop getting steam rolled by "big" government in Lisbon.

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