With last year’s announcement that Galp was delaying drilling until 2018 fresh in our minds, today’s announcement is being taken with a pinch of salt by ASMAA.
We took into account the votes in the Portuguese Parliament last week as well as many of the contradictions that come out of the government spin doctors offices in the past, but which all clearly indicate and reinforce the government’s position as being totally pro-oil exploration in spite of the blurring messages hitting the Portuguese main stream press.
We must not forget, the Minister of the Sea “blatant sale” of our offshore in the USA in September, nor the fact that until now she has failed to reply to the moderator of the petition submitted by ASMAA, as well as to our letter handed to her on 30 March in Lisbon. We must also not forget, Paulo Carmona’s “sale of new concession areas” in England to potential investors while he was still with the ENMC, nor must we forget that our submission to the Attorney General and Auditor General has not been finalised yet, nor the two injunctions submitted (AMAL and Odemira council) to the courts to stop this drilling ever taking place which are still in progress.
All in all, there’s much that we all have to keep in mind.
Recapping a bit more, the Galp/ENI in order to comply with contractual terms was supposed to have done one exploration well last year (2016), this requirement was postponed by one year to 2017, as result of delays caused by the government extending public consultation process by a month.
According to the unconfirmed information in Correio da Manhã, it appears that Galp/ENI may have requested a further extension of one year to 2018, which was allegedly declined by the government, but one must not forget that the DGRM issued a TUPEM licence on 11 January this year valid until 10 January 2019.
In view of all above, we have to question if today’s announcement is not just once again another attempt to confuse the masses, as after all the TUPEM licence is still valid.
In conclusion, ASMAA sees today’s announcement as nothing more than another manoeuvre in the complex chess game currently at play between government, oil and gas companies and the people, especially if one takes into account upcoming municipal elections just a few months away.
One can assume then, that the announcement in Correio da Manhã, smacks of nothing more than an attempt by the government in cahoots with the oil companies to reduce the risk that voters will shift their alliance during municipal elections, which could see a shift in the balance of power in local municipalities.
Guess that after elections it will be back to business as usual. In the interim ASMAA intend to proceed as planned with all of our campaigns.