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Oil Exploration: Portugal’s President signs amendments to law. But what does it really mean?

The Portuguese mainstream press on 4 August 2017 went into "override" when it announced that Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa signed into law a proposal submitted by the PS and approved in Parliament on 11 May this year. According to the press this was the best thing since sliced bread was discovered.

 

The new legal amendment to existing law (in article 5 of Law 109/94 of 26 April) makes it now mandatory to consult with mayors in affected council regions prior to any oil and gas exploration licence being granted.

At first glance it appears to be a very good thing and another step in the right direction of stopping once and for all oil exploration in Portugal. But is it? What does it really mean?

 

Before we answer you we need to look at the powers that mayors currently have.

Mayors already have the power to comment, write recommendation and objections. So what additional powers does the new law really give them?

 

In our opinion. None! As this new legal "powers" do not give the mayors any power to ensure that their "opinions, recommendations or stance" will be legally enforceable as they are only of a "consultative" nature.

 

So, why did the government add this amendment?

Various reasons:

  1. To tick the “compliance” boxes (complying with European directives)
  2. To hoodwink the public into “believing” that the government is playing fair, and that the process is totally transparent.
  3. To "control" and molde public opinion.

 

But what the mainstream press, and many others have failed to focus on is what is the underwritten message?

  1. The government has no intention of stopping oil and gas exploration in Portugal.
  2. The government is being “controlled” by the oil and gas industry lobbies.
  3. The government is blatantly ignoring the will of the people.

Above allegations are well substantiated in the following evidence:

  1. Minister of the Sea reply to the moderator of ASMAA’s petition regarding GALP/ENI TUPEM licence, in which 42,000 objections where nullified with the scratch of a pen as if they have never happened.
  2. Minister of the Sea’s note that the TUPEM licence is valid and in force, thus giving GALP/ENI until 10 Jan 2019 - sufficient time to drill.
  3. DGRM letter to ASMAA in reply to our demand for the cancellation of the TUPEM licence, which clearly indicates that they have no intention of cancelling it. In fact strongly defending their decision to maintain the licence.
  4. Minister of the Sea continued, “selling” of our offshore areas internationally.
  5. On-going statements from Prime Minister Antonio Costa that Portugal “has to know what mineral resources it has”, that contracts have to be “respected”.
  6. All the proposals for new laws, legal amendments or changes presented by the various parties related to putting an end to oil and gas exploration in Portugal, and which where rejected, clearly indicate the PS government stance on being very much pro-oil exploration – with supporting votes from PSD, CDS, PCP.

 

Should you really “believe” that this new amendment to the law was done to benefit you, our environment or even our country? Should we really believe mayors when they say it’s a good thing?

 

From our side, we say it’s a definite NO!

This latest play by the government in the very murky waters of oil and gas exploration in Portugal warrants another red card for the government for once again trying to hoodwink the population.

 

 

 

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