José Amarelinho, the powerhouse anti-oil mayor of Aljezur, asked the assembled MPs to once-and-for-all force the government to end the oil exploration and drilling contracts as the whole process has been covered in secrecy and sneakiness and turning the seas into an oil producing zone at some point will cause pollution on the region’s beaches and will damage the tourism economy - a risk not worth taking.
Protestors, arriving by bus from the Algarve - arranged by the environmental organisation ASMAA - were in good voice in front of parliament with an array of attention grabbing posters to ensure wide media coverage, speeches and dancing.
ASMAA has been instrumental in keeping the pressure on and has tracked every twist and turn deployed by a government intent on getting oil companies out to sea and drilling, breaking its own rules along the way and totally ignoring the 42,000 signatures collected and presented as part of the public consultation process for drilling in the Alentejo basin off Aljezur.
On February 20th, ASMAA submitted a request for an injunction to the Office of the Attorney General and filed a complaint with the Court of Auditors to have the Galp-ENI licence suspended due to irregularities.
Galp-ENI's Santola field drilling licence had been covertly granted on January 11th by a low ranking civil servant who conveniently left his job just days later, making it harder to elicit an explanation as to why he signed the give-away deal.
While consistently irritating the government and its various departments charged with giving the oil companies what they want, to the long-term detriment of the treasury and the public, Laurinda Seabra is the driving force and founder of ASMAA and has counted today as a big step forward with the tide of public opinion fully behind her and MPs now nodding and agreeing with the cogent anti-oil analysis presented to MPs today by the anti-oil lobby.
As it stands, Galp-ENI can start drilling at 10 days notice but if the ASMAA injunction is successful, this consortium will have to stand down – drilling licence or no drilling licence.
Meanwhile, the government now has a real fight on its hands with ASMAA today getting the upper hand and with MPs now unable fully to support an oil exploration policy that certainly is financially suspect and probably illegal in the way it has been administered and supported.
See protestors live: https://www.facebook.com/paula.ludovino.3/videos/1154655617990485/
Source: Algarve Daily News
Photo: Tom Burn