"Nothing will be done in the Algarve to undermine values of tourism and environmental issues"
The Secretary of State for Energy, Jorge Sanches Seguro, is to use all legal means possible to reverse the oil and gas exploration and extraction concession granted to Portfuel covering much of the Algarve’s onshore territory.
This major statement by a senior government representative is the first concrete sign that it now considers tourism in the Algarve as the overwhelming priority and will now go to court to overturn the Portfuel concession which Seguro considers, “should not have been given."
"Nothing will be done in the Algarve to undermine values of tourism and environmental issues. The previous government decided to allocate about 48% of the Algarve territory to a company that had no experience in oil exploration," says Jorge Sanches Seguro, echoing the call from environmental organisations that have battled to halt development of the Algarve as a petrochemical zone.
The Secretary of State considers that Portfuel should not have been given the concession, "from a legal point of view" and even less from "political point of view."
Seguro sides with the region’s mayors, saying they had not been consulted during the process, nor had the Algarve population or their MPs, adding that, until now there had been "no possibility of cancelling any contract."
Advising caution when looking at spending taxpayers’ money on legal proceedings when the outcome is not certain, the Secretary of State said that one thing is guaranteed, nothing will be done in the Algarve to undermine tourism, the environment, and the democratic participation of the people.
As for the recent ruling from the Attorney General that the Portfuel contract was valid, Seguro’s view is that the company has not met all the legal requirements in the application, including the balance sheet for the last three years and demonstrating relevant experience, when the company has no experience in oil exploration.
“I think that from a legal point of view, the contract should not have been given and from the political point of view, it should not have been given because not a single local mayor was consulted.”
"In the Algarve there is a something very important, tourism. And besides, there also are environmental issues."
In addition to this good news for those determined the Algarve should remain untroubled by an oil or gas industry, Seguro also is well aware of the funding available for energy efficiency and renewable energy development and later in July will launch a competition in the area of renewable energy.