After two requests from Helder Amaral (PS), the President of the Economy, Innovation and Public Works Commission in the Portuguese Parliament, (the body under which ASMAA’s petition has been analysed and evaluated) the Minister has at long last taken the trouble to reply.
The first request was made on 14 December 2016, the second on 1 March 2017 and the reply was received in the Portuguese Parliament on 13 July 2017 dated 12 July 2017. ASMAA received the notification on 14 July 2017.
ASMAA is grateful that for a change, there’s been some real speed on information release.
So what does Madam Minister say in her reply that is of interest to all concerned with the threat of deep-offshore drilling off the coast of Aljezur just around the corner?
She highlights the legislative framework required and reiterates that the consortium GALP/ENI has complied with all contractual and legal requirements, meaning that in the opinion of her office there are “no grounds” for a non-issue of a TUPEM licence.
In paragraph 1, point 2, she indicates that as a result of the massive public outcry, she “generously” on behalf of the government extended the public consultation by a period of 30-days, and ensured that two public consultation sessions where held, one in Aljezur on 12 July, and a second one on 14 July in Portimão. Although she forgot to state, that these Public Consultation sessions where a real disaster - you can read about it here and here.
In the same paragraph, the Minister states that the public consultation report was submitted to her ministry by the DGRM on 5 September 2016. (Interestingly just 9 days before her disastrous presentation to potential investors in the USA – see the video here).
In point 4 of the same paragraph the Minister states, that based on the technical and legal analysis conducted by the DGRM, the Secretary of State for Energy did not find “valid objections” to the TUPEM licence being granted because in their opinion the allegations submitted did not place in cause the contractual terms of the contract nor its legal framework. And she went on to state that in their opinion as a result, there where NO OBJECTIONS to the TUPEM. (Yes, you read right, we nearly choked on our coffee when we first read that statement, and had to read it again)
She went further, and also confirmed that the Energy Secretary of State had accepted a request by the ENI/Galp consortium for a postponement to 2017 of their contractual drilling obligations, and also confirmed that the request had been authorised by the Secretary of State for Energy.
So what do we at ASMAA make of her reply?
The first though in our minds was “its just business as usual” in this ministry, where the people’s and nature rights are being stumped on by our “un-elected but instead appointed representatives” in government.
In our opinion, her reply also clearly indicates that her department and its reporting bodies had just blatantly ignored over 42,000 objections.
We can also construe by her answer that each and every written submission was considered as immaterial, unsubstantiated and a waste of time and paper as far as they were concerned.
Our next though, was to ask ourselves if history was rewritten in this ministry and its reporting bodies (DGRM), in an attempt to “justify” the Minister’s sale of offshore assets at the conference last September in the USA.
Based on public information – the fact that right up until December no interested body (including ASMAA) had had access to this very evasive public consultation report.
We are now very surprised to read that it had been allegedly submitted by the DGRM on 5 September 2016 (hmm?). Do we really believe that? Not really – in fact, we would not be at all surprised if it is found that some fancy footing took place and that these documents where backdated at some stage.
What we do know for sure is that many things occurred in this process that needs a proper investigation by the relevant authorities. Starting right at the beginning of adjudication, to contract award via a “direct negotiation” process based on an obsolete tender document and terminating at the issue of the TUPEM licence on authorization of the Minister on 11 January 2017.
We also need to keep in mind, that our petition in objection to this licence being granted still has not been heard or debated in the Portuguese parliament, thus once again clearly demonstrating the farce surrounding this entire process. Let's also not forget that the minister has still not replied to our letter dated 31 March 2017 handed to her sidekick in Lisbon. See a copy here.
You can download the Minister’s reply in the attachment section below. (Portuguese)