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Galp/ENI Drilling in Aljezur - Is it really over?

Is it at all possible that ENI/Galp could still drill in the deep offshore off Aljezur’s coast in spite of all denials by government? Is it the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

In our opinion, it’s not only possible but also very provable that we facing now the beginning of the end!.

Why do we think so?

Because a series of events has taken place since end of August this year in the ocean waters between Sines and Walvis Bay in Namibia.


A bit of background

  1. For approximately 8 months the drilling ship SAIPEM12000 was anchored in Walvis Bay after it left Angola, and then it started to move closer to Portuguese waters on the 24 August.
  2. ENI on 11 January 2017 was awarded a TUPEM licence by the DGRM to drill a well in Portuguese waters in front of Aljezur using this specific drilling ship in spite of massive public opposition.
  3. The TUPEM licence is still valid until at least 10 January 2018 (although this licence was granted until 10 January 2019 by the DGRM)
  4. The ENMC website clearly stil shows that one well must be drilled in 2017. Click here.


Some interesting factors

On the 24 August the drilling ship SAIPEM12000, the officially authorised drilling vessel leaves Walvis Bay with destination - the Canary Islands (Las Palmas) with initial arrival date scheduled for 2 October 2017, the ship arrived in fact on 1 October 2017 – interestingly enough, it arrived on the same date as Portuguese municipal elections was taking place.

Another interesting ship that made an appearance was the “Vos Purpose” during September. Allegedly the “Vos Purpose” was contracted by an unnamed Italian company to conduct some sort of deep sea surveying in the same concession areas of planned ENI well drilling. These occurrences took place between the 2 September and 21 September,  and recorded as operating out of the Port of Sines. (2, 9, 17 and 21 September public records)

A press release by Climaximo dated 27 September questioning the “Vos Purpose” activities resulted in a unprecedented prompt reply that same day, quite late in the evening by the ENMC, denying any suggestions that these surveys where supportive of any offshore oil exploration. The ENMC communiqué was published in some Portuguese mainstream online news websites.

Further communication with the Port of Sines around the 29 September, indicates that the DGRM issued a survey licence to “Vos Purpose”, but interestingly enough there’s no record of a TUPEM licence for this ship in the DGRM website. Request for information has been simply ignored by the DGRM.

Now we have two ships – one doing some unknown surveys, for some undisclosed Italian client (perhaps ENI? Or even Saipem), and within a few days away from ENI/Galp concession areas we have the SAIPEM12000 just sitting quietly in the Canary Islands.


We have to ask … are the “Vultures” sitting ready to pounce?

Then on the 9 September ENI announces that the SAIPEM12000 has been awarded a drilling contract to drill one well in the Moroccan deep offshore towards the later part of 2018 first quarter. (Morocco’s Rabat Deep offshore)

This is followed by an announcement by Secretary of State Seguro Sanches that government had rejected a request for a further one-year postponement to 2019 by ENI.

Mr. Sanches also told journalists that for ENI to be able to proceed the mayors would have to give their consent – this statement is in fact an over stretching of the truth by the Secretary of State, as the only rights the mayors now have because of a recently passed law, is to provide opinions and/or recommendations, nothing more.

The mayors do not have executive powers of final decision - only the government has that power. In our opinion these statements by the Secretary of State may have been made in an attempt to pacify the people, especially during a hotly contested municipal election period.

Another interesting factor regarding SAIPEM12000 is the fact that it appears that a full equipment check-up may have taken place in the past few days. We make that assumption due to the fact that the ship was during a couple of days in a stationary (fixed) position and unable to manoeuvre out of the way of any marine traffic.


All in all … there’s just to many coincidences to just ignore it.


Now let’s take a look at the “Urgent Injunction Applications” (Providências Cautelares)

During the past few months much ink has been written about the fact that there’s no way that ENI/Galp can drill, as there are various Urgent Injunction Applications (Providências Cautelares) active currently.

In fact there are none currently as according to our information all where rejected by the courts – yes, we talking about AMAL’s, Odemira’s and PALP’s.

What may still be currently running are some of the main court actions, even that we are not sure if it is the case as information regarding these court actions are not forthcoming from either Odemira or PALP, and even AMAL’s we can’t really confirm what is the current position or situation with their legal action. You can read more about it here.


But you may ask. Doesn't the fact that court cases may stil be running against Galp/ENI be enough to prevent the drilling from taking place?


The answer is NO! Its just a standard court process that it will run its course in due time!


You may ask as well: Can't AMAL, Odemira´or PALP raise another Urgent Injunction application?


The answer is also NO! The subject matter has already been heard by the court and their submissions and justification of "urgency" to stop the drilling was rejected by the courts!


The Risk

If as we suspect the ENI/Galp consortium is in cahoots with government, and they are carrying on with their intent to drill before the year end, all they really need to mobilise such action is a willing and supportive government decision and a couple of days to move their commissioned and authorised drilling ship – the SAIPEM12000 – into the concession area. And that is all that is required, nothing else.

What amazes us is the absolute silence (from all – including civic organisations) about the fact that the drilling ship SAIPEM12000 is just days away from the designated location, and about the fact that technically they have until the 31 of December 2017 to get their ship into the concession area.

Now if one takes into account that the next commission for SAIPEM12000 is only planned to start sometime towards the end of March 2018, does that factor not raise serious questions in your mind? After all there is sufficient time for the drilling to still take place unless it can be stopped.

Can we really trust all the government in this regard, which saw time after time many attempts to just pacify the population but nonetheless have proceeded anyway. Our opinion, is NO we can't trust the government to do the right thing.


The Dilemma

So this leaves us the people facing a serious dilemma - the drilling risk is still very much here and has not gone away at all – so what can we still do?


The Solution

There’s a need for ASMAA to be ready to submit our own Urgent Injunction Application (Providência Cautelar) at the appropriate moment, in an endeavour to put the brakes once and for all on this attempt to spoil our environment, our livelihoods, our future generations … but we can’t do it on our own, we need the support of everyone to carry the cost of this legal action - everything else we are ready for.




-2 # Rui 2017-10-22 19:46
Why are deliberately lying about the rejection of the injuntions? What is your interest in lying? I don't know about the others, but I know for a fact that PALP injunction is still standing and last week the Loulé court scheduled a date for the hearing of the witnesses. I thought all the associations were fighting with the same purpose in mind. Clearly I'm wrong. Please review your sources. Thank you.
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0 # ASMAA 2017-10-22 23:42
Dear Rui

Thank you for highlighting that we may have received incorrect information. As a result, we are sure that you have no objections to provide us with the following:

1. Case number of PALP's urgent injunction application submitted to Loulé's court.

2. Copy of court award for the granting of the urgent injunction application.

3. Information of current status of any legal case brought by PALP against GALP/ENI/Gov.

Once we receive these documents we have no problem in correcting the information above if it is indeed incorrect.

We look forward to your reply.

Kind regards

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0 # John Rail 2017-10-20 11:48
«In fact there are none currently as according to our information all where rejected by the courts – yes, we talking about AMAL’s, Odemira’s and PALP’s.»

Where did you get such information?
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+1 # Roger 2017-10-19 12:27
Who is responsible if it going wrong..
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0 # ASMAA 2017-10-19 12:53
Quoting Roger:
Who is responsible if it going wrong..

The local people and our environment will pay the price when it goes wrong (no IF's about it)
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0 # Callum 2017-10-24 18:19
I think Roger means

'FOR it going wrong...'

But yes, undoubtedly, the local environment, its people, its tourism and related health and well being as a result. It is an appalling decision, however I am very glad to find that ASMAA are so passionately fighting.

We (and many others) are with you!
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