We attempted to verify the rumours, which where confirmed by an article late on Friday the 10th of November in “O Publico” quoting Aljezur’s mayor José Amarelinho, and I quote …
” I confirm that I received today (Friday) a request to assess and give an opinion about the Galp/ENI consortium proposed Drilling Work Program for 2018, with all phases of the proposed drilling actions fully detailed. The work is projected to take place 46 kilometres from our coast”
Mr. Amarelinho went on to state that his opposition to the drilling has not changed; that he remains as opposed now as he has been in the past, and that his official reply would be reflecting that stance.
Mr. Amarelinho further indicated to journalists that oil and gas exploration had been in the last meeting’s agenda of AMAL although the matter had not been discussed. He further stated that due to this new set of circumstances he had added this issue to the agenda for next AMAL’s meeting.
Over and above the Aljezur council, both the councils of Vila do Bispo and Odemira where contacted as well, as the Santola concession falls within their areas of responsibility. All have 10 working days to reply.
We will be following up with the mayors of these two councils on Monday, to get written statements about their position on this Galp/ENI latest manouvre.
Once ASMAA found out that the drilling ship SAIPEM12000 had left Walvis Bay and was in transit to the Canary Islands (basically positioned 3 days from drilling zone in Aljezur) we knew it would be a question of time before such an action by Galp/ENI would occur. Once again ASMAA was proven right in our assumption that it would happen some time in October/November before year end.
To say that we are not surprised, it would be the understatement of the year. The fact is that we have often warned that the risk had not disappeared. We advised that we should remain alert and careful and not be complaisant; nor should we be under the impression that as legal action is currently still running, that such action would in fact put a stop to Galp/ENI attempts to drill.
But, and this is a BIG BUT … we where surprised by a change of strategy on their part. Guess they are moving into their “Plan B”.
What do we mean by that?
Again according to as yet unconfirmed information it appears that the documents submitted not only deal with the Santola concession drilling requirements, but also includes planned Drilling Works Program for the “Gamba” and “Lavagante” concession areas.
This means that if our information is accurate that the mayors for council regions affected by the “Gamba” concession, namely Vila do Bispo and Lagos will also have to give their opinion, as well as Santiago do Cacém, Sines and Odemira for the “Lavagante” concession. It means that the risk now is not only one well drilled in one concession (Santola) but that we run the risk of three wells being drilled, or we could be facing a cat and mouse game of “where will they really drill”.
The Mayors Opinion
If one reads the articles in the law recently passed giving mayors additional rights, it soon becomes clear that this new law is nothing more than hogwash, and I quote:
“(…) the municipalities express their opinion on the constraints to the development of exploration and exploration activities, experimental exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, in order to provide the applicant with all available information on the required area.”
Our interpretation of this paragraph in the law is that all that the mayors are legally mandated to do is to inform what in the mayors opinion could be constraints to them drilling …
Hello? Are we the only ones seeing the ridiculous aspect of this law?
Bottom line, this paragraph in the law was not included to benefit the councils management, nor its constituents, nor the surrounding environmental or socio-economic sustainability of their region, instead it is designed to protect the interests of the oil and gas corporations.
In our opinion this is a blatant infringiment of our rights as citizens and local residents.
But hold on a bit, didn’t the Secretary of State for Energy, Jorge Seguro Sanches on or about the 6 of October this year rejected the request for an extension to the exploration contract submitted to him? Meaning that the contract expires at year end?
Then how come Galp/ENI has been able to submit this request to mayors?
Either the Secretary of State overstretched the truth then, or someone has done some fancy footwork in the meantime. I expect, whatever the real situation is, the one thing that 42,000 people that signed an objection deserve, is the truth, and for their objections to be taken seriously.