Galp-ENI’s oil and gas exploration test well, planned for an offshore location 46 kilometres due west of Aljezur, remains suspended after a Loulé court upheld PALP’s May 24th challenge to the Ministries of the Sea and of the Economy.
According to PALP, the Administrative Court of Loulé, in an order signed on June 29th, considered that the arguments put forward by the Ministries were not sufficient to allow the drilling to commence.
There already is a ban in place but the Ministries challenged it – and failed, meaning that the consortium’s activities remain frozen until there is a final court decision.
On May 24, PALP argued that the challenge by the Ministries, by way of a Grounded Resolution - a special administrative act used by the Government to lift a ban if it can prove it’s detrimental to the public interest - was based on a false statement which confuses 'public' with 'private' interests and deliberately omits certain key aspects.
The arguments used by the Ministries included suggesting the consortium would sue the government if it could not go ahead, that the licence was for exploration only when in fact it is for exploration and production, that an environmental survey was not needed as the drilling operation was ‘low-risk’ when it isn't, that the investment was being paid for by the consortium when in fact it is fully reimbursed by taxpayers, that there would be a ‘loss of jobs,’ when the consortium already had explained that no more than 30 temporary posts would be created.
Another argument used by PALP was that there are several state entities (universities, institutes, foundations) that also conduct geological research without the risks associated with test well drilling.
The Ministries' argument managed also to confuse everyone by stating that the original ban was due to court action "by the Municipality of Odemira," when it was PALP’s court action.
In a further PR blunder, Minister of the Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino, (pictured) attempted to quell fears over drilling muds, oil and other related pollutants reaching the Algarve or Alentejo shorelines by assuring the anti-oil lobby that any liquids would be borne south on the prevailing Canary Current - so named as this current heads straight for the Canary Islands.
"Any contaminant that could result from the drilling should be transported directly south and away from our coast, following the Canaries Current, so this shouldn’t affect our coastal resources," explained Vitorino, to the astonishment of the Canary islanders who spent years campaigning to halt Repsol from drilling in their pristine waters.
We could not believe it either when we read it in their reply document to our case (ASMAA). But it appears that the Minister continues to gather loads of your type awards.
But an award to the Minister of the Sea, Ana Paula Vitorino for the most idiotic comment made so far this year, by stating that the Canary current will push any oil spill towards the Canary Islands away from the Algarve coast. Can't believe anybody could be so stupid to make such a comment.
Back to the issue!
I honestly find it hard to believe that you ONLY found out about the fact that your injunction had lost its suspense status now, because it is the norm for any court to inform the applicants of such occurrence, and to provide substantive evidence thereof.
Which brings me to the next question. What was the real reason that PALP only raised its objection now, why did you fail to do it previously, straight after it happened in 2017? (My apologies but this one I find difficult to swallow)
Unfortunately, I must state that I am very disappointed by what appears to be a very poorly managed process, forgive me if I say, that I find it difficult to believe what you say.
It may be in your own interest for PALP to really clear the air as this is a very serious issue, and one that worries not only me, but lots of people.
One way that would go a long way to achieve that, would be for you to send the ED of ADN a copy of the latest court award showing the decision of the judge being in your favour. As after all, the court award is a document of public interest, and not subject to any court restrictions.
I invite you to do that in the spirit of transparency.
As was said previously only in March 2018, the PALP discovers the existence of a "Fundamental Resolution" of the Ministry of the Sea and Economy that removed the power of the injunction and allowed ENI and Galp could continue the work. …"
Now I am seriously concerned. Either you (PALP) are misrepresenting the facts, or your legal advisor failed to inform you. I have to state that I am used to legal proceedings. (As a businessmen it would be surprising if I wasn’t), but I’m digressing.
Cont... 4 (2nd part)
It should be referring to the decision of the APA to authorize the survey, but only between September 2018 and January 2019."
In my understanding THIS means that in effect the government did in extend the embargo on the drilling until 15 September. So there was, and still is in place, an embargo effective at present set by the government.
Your response worries me, as it appears that you are trying to confuse the issue. I believe my statement was quite clear. It was not a question.
This is a totally different account of what you (PALP) went public with at the time.
You went out stating that PALP had obtained a three-month extension to your injunction, alluding that its suspensive rule had in fact been extended by a further three months. Either you misrepresented the facts then, or you may be misrepresenting the facts now. Now I am really concerned about your lack of consistency or factual information.
As far as I can recall (as I have been following this situation very close, as I don’t want the drilling), for me, your answer does not make sense. Does it mean, according to you, that the decree passed by the Secretary of State did not result in an embargo? That it was as a result of PALP and the Portuguese parliament that the Secretary of State passed the decree, embargoing the drill until an Environmental Impact Study was conducted?
With all due respect, I find it difficult to believe that the government will listen to what PALP has to say.
In relation to the points that Mr JD mentioned:
*1. 8 Jan there is an embargo by Portuguese government until an EIA is done *
In January the government said that the APA would assess the situation taking into Decree-Law no. 152-B / 2017. Note that the PALP and the Portuguese parliament require an Environmental Impact Assessment and a serious study on the socio-economic consequences.
* 2. Feb 23 PALP said that they had a 3 months embargo via the court (taking it 23 May 2018) *
Due to the Government's decision for the APA to assess the situation taking into account
Decree-Law no. 152-B / 2017, the procedures of the precautionary were suspended for 3 months until the APA decision was known that could influence the process.
* 3. May 16 2018 - government extends embargo until 15 September 2018 *
It should be referring to the decision of the APA to authorize the survey, but only between September 2018 and January 2019.
* 4. on 24 May 2018 PALP objects to government's ministries lifting of injunction *
- Requested the document.
The court warned.
- On 24 May, the PALP submitted a defense against "Resolution Basis "for the continuation of the precautionary ENI and Galp.
* 5. on 29 June 2018, the court reinstates the embargo requested by PALP. *
Now the court has agreed to the dispute that the PALP delivered on 24, the "Grounded Resolution" was considered undue, and the would continue to impede the work of ENI and Galp until the court make its final decision.
We still do not know the date of the final decision, but it may be before or after September. So at this point it is necessary for everyone to show their public discontent.