In a letter to the ENMC, with copies to the Ministry of the Sea, the DGRM and the Directorate-General for Energy, the Eni / Galp consortium informed the mentioned government bodies that it is unable to proceed with the drilling of a deep-offshore oil exploration well this year (2018) off the cost of Aljezur.
In a letter sent to the government in August, it states that as a result of the suspension of works ordered by the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Loulé "it has the immediate consequence of being impossible to carry out the drilling operations as it was contractually obliged to do" and the letter further reinforces the fact that it was due to factors outside of the concessionaire control (...) "meaning that a postponement is once again inevitable."
The current contract ends in January 2019 and a source for the Ministry of Economy notes that "although the contract can no longer be extended, but that the court decision to suspend the activities will add a few months to the deadline."
The exploration work which was scheduled to take place in September, was suspended based on the injunction filed by three associations - Quercus, Sciaena and Almargen - with the argument that "there was a violation by the DGRM to the TUPEM license public consultation process " , specifically regarding the fact that it failed to provide a cetacean monitoring report. Adding to this argument ENI is arguing a"loss of at least four million euros" as a result of the suspension, leaving open a possible claim for compensation to the State by the Eni/Galp consortium.
Asked by journalists, if the ENI / Galp consortium would give up the drilling, and was only looking for arguments to be compensated, the consortium only replied, "Eni and Galp awaits the decision of the court and will not comment on speculative scenarios."
The Ministry of the Sea said, "that as the need for a cetaceans report and study was a result of the public consultation." And DGRM confirmed, "that the cetaceans study was finished four months after the public discussion."
ASMAA is of the opinion that the government will not do anything to cancel the deep offshore drilling schedule to take place in the Alentejo Bay off Aljezur coastline by the Eni/Galp consortium.
We are of the opinion that the government wants to wait until past national elections due to take place early in 2019, and that it will afterwards open up Portugal to be exploited by oil companies both onshore as well as offshore. With new international tenders and contracts being awarded then.
These new exploration contracts will certainly include fracking operations.
Nor should we forget that the injunction that stopped the drilling currently is based on an injunction challenging the authorization given by DGRM (under the tutelage of the Sea Ministry) for the use of Portuguese maritime space – namely a TUPEM licence to drill an exploratory well by the consortium Galp / ENI. Nothing else.
As a result … THE FIGHT MUST GO ON! We can’t stop now … in fact, we now have to increase our efforts to stop all drilling planned for the near future.
ASMAA Legal Actions Lodged in the Loulé Court (TAF)
On 6 April 2018, ASMAA filled a Class Action – fully endorsed since September 2018 by more than 700 individuals and two associations. In addition, on September 7, 2018, ASMAA lodged a further court action - an injunction demanding:
a) the cancellation of an authorisation dispatch issued by the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy dated 07.08.2002;
b) the cancellation of the adjudication award 11 / XVII / SEAII / 2007 of 30.01.2007;
c) the cancellation of oil exploration contracts signed on 01.02.2007 and the amendments made to the contracts on 22.04.2010, 09.11.2014 and 18.12.2014;
d) the cancellation of all approvals which are deemed to be illegal as of 19.06.2007; the cancellation of Action Plans and Scopes approved since then, as well as all the acts that led to extensions to original contracts being given by government bodies to the various concessionaries since 2007;
e) the cancellation of the government dispatch of 11 January 2017, which enabled the award of the Tupem licence No. 015/001/2017;
f) the cancellation of the recommendation by the ENMC dated 9 January 2018;
g) the cancellation of the recommendation by Portuguese Environmental Agency dated 16 May 2018.
Against the following cited entities:
1. Estado Português, (Portuguese Government)
2. Ministério da Economia, (Ministry of Economy)
3. ENSE -Entidade Nacional o Sector Energético,
4. ENMC - Entidade Nacional para o Mercado de Combustíveis,
5. o Ministério do Mar, (Ministry of the Sea)
6. Direcção-Geral de Recursos Naturais, Segurança e Serviços Marítimos (DGRM),
7. Ministério do Ambiente (Ministry of Environment)
8. Direcção-Geral de Energia e Geologia (DGEG)
9. a Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente (Portuguese Environmental Agency)
10. and the interested parties being the consortium partners, Eni and Galp.
As it is blatantly clear, ASMAA’s legal actions are extensive, comprehensive and well researched, and do not focus only on the award of a TUPEM licence, which had the government wanted to do, could have been easily overturned before ASMAA launched our own legal challenges. We are of the opinion that our legal actions and its timing threw a spanner in the government wheels.
But nonetheless, we are deeply grateful for this suspension, which was obtained by the three associations that brought an injunction against the award of the TUPEM, even if it will be only temporary nature (i.e. until the end of the year) ... because once again, the bottom line is that there is a suspension to the drilling, and any suspension at this stage of the game, is very, very welcome!
In the meanwhile the fight continues … because we do not want any drilling to take place not now, nor in the future. Not One WELL!
Nem UM Furo! Nem Agora ... Nem NO Futuro.