A lawsuit has been lodged by anti-oil association, ASMAA, in a class action representing everyone that signed the petition that was dismissed by the Portuguese parliament on 21 December 2017.
This historic court case challenges the constitutionality of the law that enabled the Portuguese government to sign concession contracts with companies such as GALP and Hardman in 2007 and saw multiple amendments to oil and gas drilling concession contracts over the years, including the multiple contractual changes to the three contracts for Alentejo Basin currently held by the GALP-ENI consortium.
ASMAA's CEO, Laurinda Seabra, commented, “If successful in our legal challenge, current contracts held by the ENI-GALP consortium will be declared null and void, and offshore oil and gas exploration will be put on hold for a few years.
"This should lead to a faster transition to greener energy programmes, while discouraging any further investment in fossil fuels exploration in the Portuguese offshore, by encouraging investment in alternative energies such as solar, wind and tidal.”
Seabra went on to say, “ASMAA lodged its case at the Loulé Administrative & Fiscal Court, 10 days before the closure of a public consultation process that was developed in an effort to determine if an environmental impact assessment (EIA) should be required or not (sic) for the planned drilling of one exploration well by the ENI-GALP consortium, 48 km from Aljezur coastline…"
"Keeping in mind, that the Secretary of State for Energy, Jorge Seguro Sanches stipulated in his extension to contract conditions of 8 January this year, that an EIA was indeed a pre-condition, one starts to see through the games that are being played by both the government and the oil drilling companies - these games need to be challenged in court too.”
Decree-Law Nº. 109/94 of 26 April 1994 defies Constitution and the Climate Paris Accord
The lawsuit claims that Portugal’s drive to promote its offshore concession areas violates the Portuguese constitution, which amongst other things ensures the right to a sustainable climate and obliges the state to secure that right. ASMAA argue’s that the extension by one year to the contracts held by GALP-ENI violates the UN’s Paris Agreement, which Portugal has signed, to stop climate change.
The association also argues that the licences violate citizens' rights to a safe and healthy environment for current and future generations, as granted by the Portuguese Constitution.
ASMAA has been drumming up public support to assist with legal costs. A preliminary budget of €30,000 was set, of which just over a third of the funds needed have been raised. Financial contributions came from concerned citizens, small businesses, and include a financial pledge from one municipal association of three directly impacted municipalities.
ASMAA currently is putting together, along with other collaborating partners, a set of info-sessions which will be used to inform concerned citizens of the current status of the anti-oil drilling campaigns. These sessions also will be used to boost support and raise money for the legal battle. The first session is scheduled for Friday the 20th April and will take place in Milfontes.
While government politicians argue that Portugal needs to “know” its oil and gas resources in an endeavour to boost the economy (sic), ASMAA argues that stopping oil and gas drilling will ensure that industries such as tourism, fishing and agriculture will have a future, while at same time enabling all residents and visitors to maintain and even improve their current quality of life.