Especially taking into account the recent fires up north, and the impact that it has had on lives, livelihoods and the local economy.
But yesterday, a copy of a presentation by Australis to investors dated 6 November 2017 made its way to us via email. And on reading the first page about their Portuguese concessions – one sentence stood-out which motivated us to write this article. Yes, we have a duty to inform and to warn about what’s to come and what’s in store for the locals, especially these living in the Pombal and Batalha areas.
" Large LOW COST, onshore acreage WITH MINIMAL work commitments" (...)
" ... and NO GOVERMENT Participation"
These two sentences in a way clearly indicate the manner in which our government is seen outside. How the Portuguese nation is seen ... a country ripe for unfair exploration! We just could not ignore it ...
Let’s start by taking a look at “Australis”
Most Portuguese residents have never heard of them. So who are they?
Jon Stewart, Ian Lusted and Graham Dowland – 3 individuals that were previous key executives of Aurora Oil & Gas Limited, created Australis in March 2014. (There’s more to this story, which links to Mohave Oil & Gas and even Galp – but that’s for a later date)
According to Australis management, in February 2015, they were invited by the Portuguese government to submit an expression of interest for two oil and gas exploration concession areas in Portugal - namely Batalha and Pombal. Sometime in September 2015, a Portuguese company was founded and registered in Portugal – being a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Australis Oil and gas Ltd (we believe that it was done with the sole intent to sign the 2 contracts and to temporary hold the concession licences prior to them being transferred to the Australian holding company).
A Bit More of Background
On 28 September 2015 during the Conference “Petroleum Exploration in Portugal” held at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Ian Lusted – Managing Director disclosed during a press interview that “Australis was in Lisbon at the invite of the Portuguese government” …
he further stated to Business News (Australia) later that “we spoke with the Portuguese and acquired the concessions under very, very favourable terms, including being given access to previous data at a nominal fee (…) all, in all it has been a very cheap acquisition, with very little investment, which will be extremely profitable once there’s an increase in the oil price”
The contracts for Pombal & Batalha were signed at the ENMC offices on the 30 September 2015 at 11H00AM under a PSD/CDS government and just a few days before a new government was elected on 4 October 2015. (You can download copies of the contracts here - only in Portuguese)
The contract terms are all in favor of Australis. Portugal will only be entitled to some royalties once the company has recovered exploration and exploitation costs. For Portugal and the Portuguese what is the benefit?
In our humble opinion the benefit is ZERO! Well not quite correct … the benefit for Portugal is the massive risks that come with oil and gas exploration and especially with Fracking. In fact, a negative benefit.
Now what we are concerned, and why we decided to sound the alert are some whispers we have heard as a result of our trip to fire zones last month. There’s talk that oil and gas exploration “So called benefits” will be sold to the local population as the best thing since sliced bread and as a solution for the unemployment and devastation caused by the fires.
We asking that you don’t fall for it. There are no benefits for you, for your family or for your community. Benefits to be had, will be for only a few fat cats well placed in various structures of government and for Australis itself. You, the environment and local economy do not feature in their balance sheet.
Oil exploration in general seldom equates to benefits for the country, local communities, you just need to look at the wealth of studies and reports here.
- Regarding potential claims of job creation, again, this type of exploration does not really create many jobs, and these created are of short duration and mainly for unskilled labour, but in the process it will destroy any other jobs that are dependent on tourism, agriculture and fishing.
- We woke-up the Algarve, and in the process, people here in the Algarve are today much better informed. Some contracts were canceled … now its time that all contracts for oil and gas exploration in Portugal are canceled too.
- In its latest investors information releases, Australis has clearly indicated that it intends to conduct an EIA (Environmental Impact Study) prior to drilling an exploration well during the first quarter of 2018 – but most people that will be affected are not even aware of them, never mind about what they want to do.
- Many interested parties are arguing that the drilling is for a conventional well and that Australis has no intention to frack. That is not true. All you need is to read the relevant information on the ENMC’s website and in many of Australis investor info documents too.
If you are reading this, we request that you share this with your colleagues, family and friends before its too late. Not only are you all facing the disaster that the aftermath of the fires has left behind, you are also now facing another major risk in your door step. Fracking!
Say NO to Fracking! Say YES to Life!
Latest Concession Areas Map (Source: ENMC) 2017