The day the Algarve said ‘no’ to oil

First public meeting on oil and gas exploration in the Algarve
Thursday, 14 January 2016 | Economy

We have already reported several times about the project of the Portuguese government to explore oil and gas in the Algarve – both offshore and onshore - and the opposition against it, organized by ASMAA - Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association. The article below is an extract from a publication in from January 13th. on that subject.

"On Tuesday,  January 12th. the National Authority for the Fuel Market (Entidade Nacional para o Mercado de Combustíveis, ENMC)  held a public consultation in the Algarve.  ENMC had kicked off the oil and gas exploration process already in 2011 and this meeting in Faro was the first public consultation, some five years later, dispelling the myth that the government body is open and transparent, as it tries to portray itself. 

The evening meeting at the Algarve University’s Health Education conference auditorium saw the entrance filled with banner-waving anti-oil protestors as 252 pre-registered members of the public arrived and took their seats, followed by dozens of unregistered delegates who filled the aisles. It was scheduled to clarify the government’s position on hydrocarbon exploration and extraction in the region. The speakers came from the oil companies Repsol, ENI, Galp, Partex and Portfuel, and the talks centred on their employers’ safety record, the money some already had spend in surveying the offshore oil blocs, some basic geology and the low statistical probability of finding oil or gas, the long periods of time that would pass before anything would happen if they did find oil or gas and the mysterious benefits to the region should they be allowed to continue as they plan.

The Algarve’s mayors already had decided that turning the Algarve's land and sea into an oil or gas production zone would not compatible with their plans for the region. Their focus is on tourism, non-polluting and clean industries and renewable energy. On Tuesday, January 12th their group AMAL met several business and tourism associations and all agreed: oil is a no-no for a region which has spent decades building up a now thriving tourism business based on clean beaches, beautiful countryside and clean air and water. If oil and gas exploration is allowed to continue on land or at sea, this will "endanger the region's economy and it does not justify the environmental and social damage caused to people and the economy of the Algarve." The mayors and business association representatives: Vitor Neto (NERA), Daniel do Adro (AIHSA), Elidérico Viegas (AHETA), Carlos Luís (CEAL), Victor Guerreiro (ACRAL) and Steven Piedade (ANJE) have demanded the immediate halt of the of oil and gas exploration programme for the Algarve.

The move by Portugal’s government towards an oil and gas production model is late, unwanted and heading in the opposite direction to that was  agreed at the 2015 Paris Summit - a plan on developing renewable energy technology and switching from fossil fuels to sun, wind and wave power. Whatever happens in the Algarve, bearing in mind that the exploration contracts already are signed and cannot be changed as that would break the contract conditions, the days of big government ignoring the people that voted them in, are threatened."