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REPSOL SAYS THAT DRILLING FOR GAS WILL BE “CLEAN AND SAFE” – CAN WE REALLY BELIEVE THEM?

Opinion by Laurinda Seabra

When I first read this headline, to my mind come an old washing powder commercial in South Africa, “Its Good, Its Clean, Its Fresh, tra-la-la … which washes all your dirty linen whiter that white”. One must be forgiven for asking if Repsol/Partex is trying to "whitewash" the impact of their proposed gas and oil operations in the Algarve?

 

whitewash


I expect that anyone reading about their comments in the press would ask why has Repsol failed to qualify and quantify their “Clean and Safe” statement. After all, there isn’t much public information on what they are really planning on doing, is there?

We truly believe its time for the Repsol/Partex consortium to come “clean” and state publicly what they will be doing, what the real impacts will be and to engage with the local communities.

Although we welcome their statement that they will be doing an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment), if they are really serious about the environment and safety as they state, then we should expect the Repsol/Partex consortium to commission a full ESIA (Environmental and Social Impact Assessment) for the prospecting stage as well as the final development.  


Anything short than this, would not really be acceptable - and I trust they will not come-up with comments such as “it’s too soon to complete an ESIA’, because any responsible company would be doing a ‘strategic ESIA’ at this stage, don’t you agree?

Furthermore, its my opinion that this report should be made public, so that it can be scrutinized by independent experts, and while we at it -  we would welcome answers to questions such as:

1.    How many local jobs would the project create?
2.    How many contracts would be awarded to local companies?
3.    What would be the tax, royalties, and other financial contribution of the project to the Portuguese economy?

Telling us that it is to early in the game to provide answers to above questions as well as others that have already been posed - sounds really like a "whitewash" answer - after all, as we all in the industry know, by now they have a pretty good idea of the outcome and their strategic planning is well advanced if not already finalised – which should enable them to provide all the answers and information needed to have informed local communities.

On the subject of pollution, in which the Repsol spokesperson stated to Portugal Newswatch the following:

“One basic difference between gas and oil is that gas evaporates and oil needs containment on water surfaces. In the event of a well failure, gas spills are easier to control than oil spills, as the gas is not retained in the seawater. No water pollution is generated and the hydrocarbon bubbles into the atmosphere until well control is achieved. In the Algarve, as no hazardous gas is expected, a gas pollution case is an extremely improbable situation.”

 

I refer to the article “US Climate Bomb is Ticking: What the Gas Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know” writen by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers published in http://clearingthefogradio.org in which the writers made the following very interesting comment:

“Extraction of oil and natural gas trapped in shale rock far below the earth’s surface is an attempt to collect the last fragments of hydrocarbons for fuels and manufacturing. As fossil fuels dwindle, the methods of acquiring them are becoming more extreme. In addition to hydrofracking, others are deepwater oil drilling, mountaintop removal, uranium mining and tar sands excavation.  The industry is going to great lengths to hide the impact of these extreme methods and to promote them as safe and necessary energy sources, even falsely calling them “clean.”

 

I find it an amazing coincidence that the same choice of words is used by the Repsol/Partex spokesperson ... "gas is clean and safe" ... hmm!

Now, what is the definition of "safe"? - Safe = protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost. Protected from harm/danger, shielded, sheltered, guarded, defended, secure, safe and sound, out of harm's way, all right. Not likely to cause or lead to harm or injury; not involving danger or risk.

Somehow, I cant relate above explanation for "safe" with the drilling industry, can you?

 

The release of methane gas trapped between shifting rock layers under lakes, rivers, the sea and coastal waterways has resulted in incalculable numbers of dead fish across the globe in recent years. Most common cause of death in nearly all reports is hypoxia: lack of oxygen, the fact that methane (gas) will convert oxygen to carbon dioxide.

"The release of methane gas trapped between shifting rock layers under lakes, rivers, the sea and coastal waterways has resulted in incalculable numbers of dead fish across the globe in recent years. Most common cause of death in nearly all reports is hypoxia: lack of oxygen, the fact that methane (gas) will convert oxygen to carbon dioxide. " Source: Zeta Talk

There is no doubt that the truth and the risks are a lot more complex than Repsol/Partex would want us to believe, in fact according to a study conducted by Stanishlav Patin which has been published in his book “Environmental Impact of the Offshore Oil and gas Industry” there are major risks, to marine organisms and to human life of deep-sea gas exploration and exploitation. 


We have not changed our opinion that Portugal deserves better, safer and cleaner forms of energy sources such as wind, solar and wave energy programs rather than focusing on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs which are far from being "clean and safe" in our opinion.

The statement made by the Repsol spokesperson that in the Algarve the gas under consideration is not hazardous - illustrates either lack of knowledge on the part of the Repsol/Partex spokesperson or was it perhaps a blatant intent to deceive?

 

You be the judge!

Reference article and natural gas web reference links:

  1. Drilling for gas will be "Clean and Safe" Portugal Newswatch: http://tinyurl.com/qxaz4bf and in Algarve Daily News: http://tinyurl.com/nzm95bs
  2. The worst cover-ups - Earth Change: http://tinyurl.com/q97cda7
  3. Gas impact on fish and other marine organisms: http://tinyurl.com/pff7txp

 

 

 

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