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Oil exploration: Duty? Obligation? Our duty is to preserve the planet for future generations

In the past few weeks the government disinformation machine has been moving at full throttle. Let’s take a look at what is fiction (The Spin) and what is the hidden truth.

The government spin

Spin Nº1. There’s an embargo on issuing new contracts until elections

The hidden truth

  1. They forgot to inform the general public that “New Contracts” are on the cards after elections.
  2. They forgot to inform the public that various ministers and other members of government are busy “Selling” Portuguese oil and gas exploration concessions, both on land and offshore and gathering Expressions of Interests (EoI´s) from interested parties around the world.
  3. They also forgot to inform that these parties would be invited to participate in a new tender process after next year’s elections. Meaning that new contracts will be signed.


Spin Nº 2. We have a duty and obligation to know what mineral (and fossil fuels) resources the country has.

From the President of the country, Ministers, Secretaries of State, and Directors of various agencies, all are singing from the same hymnbook, and have been since the beginning of times.

The hidden truth

  1. They are ignoring the will of the people, and forgetting who has elected them. Instead they appear to being bow towing to industry interests to the detriment of the country, the environment and local economic sustainability.
  2. The reality is that WE THE PEOPLE do not have a duty or an obligation to know what the country’s oil and gas, or deep sea mineral resources are. We ALREADY KNOW what are the real resources that bring value to our local economies, and oil and mineral exploration, or minerals mined in the deep offshore are not it.


Spin Nº 3. We stopped 9 contracts, but we have to respect the 5 that are currently in force.

The hidden truth

  1. ·No you don’t have to respect contracts that have been signed under dubious circumstances. Instead the government has a duty to acknowledge that some laws were “made to order” by the industry. That award of contracts followed questionable processes, and these processes must be fully investigated and the appropriate sanctions dolled out to these responsible. That in our opinion is what the government needs to respect and act on.


Spin Nº 4. We have a choice of importing fossil fuels (oil & gas) or using our own. That’s the decision that the Portuguese people have to make.

The hidden truth

  1. The Secretary of State for Energy, Jorge Sanches forgets to state that the contracts in vigour currently, do not make it conditional for the oil & gas explored in our country to be made available in Portugal. In fact, if one analyses the contracts in detail, its quite clear that any oil & gas found in our country, will be sold at international market rates, and at the discretion of the companies – the what, where and to whom they will sell it to. The government has absolutely no say in the matter.
  2. In addition, he forgets to state that the public has already, and on multiple occasions manifested its stance on oil and gas exploration, be it offshore or onshore, and the answer has been - “NO” the country does not want oil and gas exploration.


Spin Nº 5. There’s no real risk for Portugal in drilling the explorations wells, that’s the reason that for example Environmental Impact Assessments are not required.

The hidden truth

  1. The reality is that they don’t want the public to know how many risks are really present in this drilling operation. Now imagine, if without an EIA, they have identified 50 points of concern, how many more will be identified if a complete EIA is conducted?
  2. On another point, just to show the irresponsibility of this government, they have stated in a court document that if a spill occurs, the spill would affect the Canary Islands rather than the coastal regions of Portugal due to prevalent sea current conditions during the planned drilling timeline. But in other documents they state that it would take approximately one day for a spill to reach our coast.


Spin Nº 6. Offshore wind and solar energy is being promoted to facilitate the transition period to green technologies.

The hidden truth

  1. The government has forgotten to inform the public that this process is directly linked to offshore drilling and mining. Because it’s not only a cheaper alternative to laying down energy cabling to offshore drilling locations, but because of the distance from shore to drilling locations laying cabling is in fact impractical too. Especially at over a 1000 metres depths.
  2. What it means is that these alternative camps of energy will not be created to enhance local energy capacity. Instead they will be created to support drilling exploration operations.


Spin Nº 7. There are massive financial gains for the country.

The hidden truth

  1. When one takes into account that all of the companies involved are located in tax friendly countries and in offshore heavens – they forgot to inform all of the locals, that the profits would not stay in the country. Instead profits will be distributed to management and shareholders.
  2. They also forgot to inform the public about the massive tax and other fiscal benefits given to most of the companies involved, meaning that at the end of the day, local taxpayers pay not only for the cost of oil and gas exploration, but will also pick up the tab when things go wrong and are faced with massive environmental destruction.


It is quite clear to anyone who wants to see it, that the government has no intention of stopping the drilling operations, and it is quite prepared to pump out massive disinformation by the tons, in an endeavour to create confusion, and through the confusion create support for its unwanted decisions.


Unfortunately, we are at a stage in this game in that manifestations, protests, and alike fail to motivate the government to do the right thing, which is to make Portugal a country where investment is sourced for a quick transition to alternative energies, where laws should be introduced allowing for a diversity of local community players to enter the energy market so that local councils can be energy independent.


The ONLY way to ensure that the government acts responsibly is through the courts and through the ballot box during next year elections. Nothing else appears to be working. When there’s no political will to change, all legal remedies have to be exhausted before we can say … its over!




Note: Spin is what Spin Doctors do. Spin doctors are defined as:

“... spokespersons employed to give a favorable interpretation of events to the media or to a targeted audience, especially on behalf of a political party, government or a big corporation.”


It does not mean that they must give truthful interpretation or information about the real facts. They are in fact, masters at providing lies of "commission and omission".  A ”favorable interpretation” means there is deliberate premeditated deception integrated into their public messages. The person(s) knows the truth, but selects information to create a false interpretation in the target audience.


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