Opinion by Laurinda Seabra
What really caught my attention, and I could not let it go unchallenged was Mr. Guerreiro’s reply to the following questions:
ECO 123: Prime Minister António Costa says that no contracts have been signed for the exploration, will it be necessary to sign new contracts?
Luis Guerreiro asnwers: “The contracts signed with the previous government are just for research and prospecting, if the conditions are right for going ahead commercially with the exploration, the situation will be different.
Dear Mr Guerreiro, either you have not read the contracts (which I do not believe) or this is another example of the oil industry trying to obfuscate the reality. Let’s get real - the facts are that the contracts are for all phases of the oil and gas operations, starting with the research phase and finishing with a decommissioning phase. To read the Lagosta e Lagostim Repsol/Partex contracts please click here.
The previous and current government, the ENMC and the industry attempts at creating the illusion that the concessions are just for research and prospecting are nothing more than a blatant attempt to create confusion with the population through misinformation. In my opinion, repeating this “lie” does not make it the “truth”!
Guerreiro went on to say: “In a country like ours (Portugal), where a lot of people complain that we are poor, it would be a massive mistake if we did not manage to map and assess our own natural resources.”
I have a question regarding your comment: It would be a massive mistake for whom? The majority of the local population in the Algarve DOES NOT want to know what resources are on the ground. Which leaves the industry as the REAL interested parties, don’t you agree? So why not state it and be transparent, instead of using this sold-by-date phrase that is being used by self-interested parties only?
Regarding people complaining about the “poverty” factor affecting so many in Portugal, you have also failed to say, that these “poor” people will not be benefiting from any findings of oil or gas, as the majority if not the whole 100% of the benefits accrue to the companies (in this case Repsol and Partex) – all you have to do to substantiate this statement is to read the contracts terms and conditions. So I personally view your reply as another attempt to obfuscate the reality by promoting something that is not what will take place.
ECO 123: There is talk of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and an increase in the probability of earthquakes occurring. Do you recognise that there are ecological risks associated with this?
Guerreiro answers: If you ask me if the risk is zero, obviously it is not, but the risk is extremely low. Both Repsol and Partex do much more that what is required by law, we have nothing to hide. It is true, there are earthquakes. But there will not be any fracking. We are not going to fracture anything. We are not going to give rise to seismic activity, not will we be affected by it. I think people are being scared by the NGOs with fracking, with shale gas, but the impact is minimal.
Reading your answer to above question, it has left me deeply confused. In one hand you admit that it’s true that there are earthquakes, and in your next breath you say “We are not going to give rise to seismic activity, not will we be affected by it”? My goodness, does it mean that Partex and Repsol now has total control over nature and its natural elements? It denotes an extreme case of arrogance on your part in my opinion.
Are you saying that Repsol will not use fracking so what's the fuss about? Do you honestly think that the local people are stupid or asleep? All it is required is for people to read what are the findings and experiences in other parts of the world regarding offshore hydraulic fracturing / fracking (or hydraulic stimulation as I've seen it often referred to). Expecting the people of the Algarve to believe blindly that the oil and gas companies will have our interests or nature interest at heart is naivety in extreme. No! We do not trust your assurances.
ECO 123: The contracts that were signed do not appear to be very transparent, local people were not consulted, local mayors were not consulted.
Guerreiro's reply: “Does a company that is proposing to map and assess the country’s resources, natural and other resources, need to consult people in this way? Imagine a fishing company that tries to assess the places for fishing along the Portuguese coast, would it be necessary to hold a referendum?”
In response to your answer to above statement: We say YES, you have a duty to consult as after all your operations will have a direct impact on livelihoods and on the planet! In addition, I’m of the opinion that it was a poor choice to compare traditional fishing with the oil industry, as after all most traditional fisherman care about the ocean; the same cannot be said of the oil and gas industry.
Let's indeed hold a regional referendum in the Algarve
Regarding holding a referendum, we think it is a great idea, and we at ASMAA are picking up the bat to run one early next year – a regional People’s Referendum in the Algarve - council by council, parish by parish. Because a regional people’s referendum in the Algarve will indeed give a clear mandate from the local people about the future of oil and gas exploration in the Algarve!