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Oil Exploration in Portugal: Chronology of ASMAA's Legal Actions

There is no doubt that it seems easy to detail a chronology of legal actions over time, but in reality what this chronology does not include are the thousands of hours spent in research, analysis of opinions, studies and reports.

Nor does it give an indication of the impacts on our private lives, the impacts on our families, the hours spent endlessly, days on end over many years. These impacts are not accounted for in this small report, but without these efforts, it would not be possible to have done as a team the work done so far.


Nor can we forget that our work has been used (often, without due credit) by various organizations and individuals on both sides of the table.

We have been told more than once ... "ASMAA is the well that we all drink from..."



Currently the idea, is that what has been done so far, means that we've reached the end of the road, that it's all over, that we can all now just relax. But the reality is very, very different. What has been done so far, is only a small introduction to what is yet to come ... because the war is not won, on the contrary ... is still in the beginning phase...

We could like many others are doing, just paint a rosy picture, and give you false hope and say - there's nothing more to be worried about - but, we prefer the facts! So far, everything we've warned you about in this saga over the years, has came to pass ... its not that we are "negative", we just realists!

So far we have acheived lots in past 7 years, but having succeeded in many of our actions and learnt many lessons along the way, so did the government and their advisors too. They (government & oil companies) are also now much wiser to opposing arguments than when this fight started. It would be foolish of us to think that they will be letting go and in process respect people's and environmental rights. We strongly believe that it will not happen, because there's to many interests at play, to many hands that were oiled along the way, to many favours that will be called upon ...

Nonetheless, and in spite of all the challenges we faced, we have been able during the past 7 years, to prevent the drilling for oil and gas onshore and offshore, especially in the Algarve ...


Chronology of legal events

20 Feb 2017

ASMAA requests from the Attorney General's Office that they lodge in court an injunction with suspensive effect to prevent deep-ffshore oil and gas exploration off the coast of Aljezur, and to immediatelly challenge ENI-GALP's Santola contract validity.


NOTE: The submissions made to the Attorney General and the Auditor General, as well as the subsequent lodging of our legal cases with the TAF of Loulé, denounced numerous illegalities in the concession procedures for exploration, research, development and production of oil and gas, in particular in the "Santola" contract, between the Portuguese State and the ENI-GALP consortium, including the process that led to the issuance of the Private Space Use Title (TUPEM No. 015/001/2017) issued by the Directorate-General for Marine Resources (DGRM), which authorized the offshore drilling in the ocean surrounding Aljezur without an environmental impact assessment and with only 10 days notice.


12 Feb 2018

ASMAA issues the Opinion, Internal Doc. GAJ-16/2018 of 12/02/2018, and sends copies to the mayors of Aljezur, Lagos, Vila do Bispo, Odemira, Santiago do Cacém, Sines, and the presidents of the AMAL and CIMAL associations. -about:

a) Extensions of Contract for offshore area 233 - Santola;
b) Impacts of the Law Nº. 82/2017 of 18 August.

27 Feb 2018

DGRM replies to ASMAA's request to documentation

2 March 2018

ENMC replies to ASMAA's request to documentation

6 April 2018

ASMAA lodges with the Loulé Administrative and Fiscal court, our principal legal action

27 April 2018

ENMC replies to court in regard to ASMAA request for additional documentation and information.

28 April 2018

ASMAA request documentation and information from IPMA

11 May 2018

Ministry of Economy contests ASMAA's legal arguments and

2 Jun 2018

Segundo pedido de informação ao IPMA

3 a 15 Jun 2018

We receive various commissioned reports and opinions from international experts

8 Jun 2018

The court receives copy of CCDR report

15 Jun 2018

Ministério do Mar, DGRM and APA contests ASMAA's principal action.

22 Jun 2018

Ministério da Economia and ENMC contests ASMAA's principal action.

24 Jun 2018

ASMAA informs the Canary Island government of oil spill risks.
ASMAA commisions and receives new opinions from experts in earth quake risks in Bacia do Alentejo.

27 Jun 2018

Ministry of the Sea contests ASMAA's arguments.

28 Jun 2018

Ministry of Economy requests extention of response period.
Public Prosecutor contests ASMAA's arguments.
ASMAA submits reply arguments to Ministério da Economia, Ministério do Mar, ENMC, DGRM submissions.

14 August 2018

A ASMAA lodges an injunction. ASMAA inpugnates ENMC opinion dated 9 Jan 2018, and APA's decision of 16.05.2018. Injunction gains suspensive effect on all works.

13 Set 2018

GALP/ENI contests the injunction.

17 Set 2018

Loulé court instructs ASMAA to run an Opt-In - Opt-Out advert in press.

21 Set 2018

ASMAA publishes the advert and calls for support using mass broadcasting tools. (link)

28 Set 2018

Loulé Court and ASMAA receives nearly 700 support letters

4 Oct 2018

Important News: Galp signs a colaboration agreement with University of Algarve - more info here (Portuguese)

15 Oct 2018

GALP/ENI submits new arguments.

29 Oct 2018

Several media outlets, notably the Observer and the newspaper "O Sábado" published the news that the ENI / Galp consortium was to abandon the oil research project off the coast of Alentejo. The same announcement was made on Monday by the president of Galp, Carlos Gomes da Silva, during a press conference that was attended by several analysts.

At the end of the same day, the Ministry of Environment confirmed to the journalists that the ENI / Galp consortium had presented on Monday a letter calling for the waiver of the exploration contracts for the " Santola "," Lavagante "and" Gamba " concessions.

31 Oct 2018

Ministry of Economy submits new arguments

ASMAA requests copy of alledged Galp/ENI concessions abandonment letter

18 Nov 2018

Pre-hearing meeting scheduled for 11 February 2019 in the Loulé court.

26 Nov 2018

ASMAA requests that the court "demand" clarification and a copy of GALP/ENI concessions abandonment letter

12 Dez 2018

Loulé court instructs Galp/ENI and gov to reply to ASMAA's request for copy of letter and comfirmation of their press afirmations.

20 Dez 2018

The Ministry of the Environment and Energy Transition replied to the Loulé Court that it was aware of an 'intention to abandon the concessions by the Eni / Galp consortium', adding that 'this' matter is not straight forward or even linear, still under discussion and subject to a careful analysis, which is why it is not definitively finalised yet. "and that" Therefore, all the declarations mentioned by Galp/ENI and government to date, were ONLY manifests of INTENT rather than definitive as negotiations were still prooceeding. "

9 Jan de 2019

Police raids the offices of ENMC and DGEG as a result of our submission to Attorney General's office in 2017. Mais info aqui

10 Jan 2019

Negotiations between government and Galp/ENI continues, in spite of the fact that "technically" the TUPEM licence expired.

14 Jan 2019

The court of Loulé issues a new instruction to government and ENI/Galp to asnwer if concessions were or not abandoned and contracts expired or if they had been extended.

The court receives replies from Ministry of Environment and Energy Transition, and from ENSE. Galp/ENI ignored request from court.

20 Jan 2019

The Secretary of State for Energy, João Galamba, publicly said: - "... that the letter of intent presented by the Galp / ENI consortium has not yet produced the legal effects for which it is intended, and the process continues to be analysed ... "" ... and that the letter of intent presented will be made available as soon as negotiations are finalised"

31 Jan 2019

GALP/ENI respond's to court (once again, an inconclusive reply)
Negotiations between government and Galp/ENI continues, in spite of the fact that "technically" the contracts for concession areas expired.

 5 Feb 2019

ASMAA requests from court once again clarification into the status-quo of contracts.

11 Feb 2019

Loulé court once again - in a strong worded instruction, demands that Galp/ENI and the government answer in a clear format what is the status-quo.

22 Feb 2019

Galp/ENI e governo replies to the Loulé court.

 Update 27 March 2019 - ASMAA continues to wait for Loulé court decision.


On 8 April ASMAA received a copy of the court award, which we challenged on 12 April, but a few things become quite clear:

  1. The contracts were extended more than once in the past few years.

  2. There were negotiations ongoing between the government and the concessionaries Galp/ENI right up to the middle of February 2019 (meaning that these negotiations were taking place past the official termination date of 31 January 2019)

  3. That ASMAA’s injunction played a serious role in stopping any further extensions to existing contracts. Yes! All oil and gas exploration contracts in Algarve have now officially been terminated, but concession areas available for future contracts remain.


We still DO NOT have clarification on the following factors ...

What where the trade-offs negotiated between the government and the consortium Galp/ENI? Because we have no doubts that there were trade-offs agreed to behind closed doors.

What is very clear is that the alleged stop of oil and gas drilling projects, is only of a short duration. In support of this assumption, we refer you to a comment made by the Minister of Environment on air on 3 April this year and I quote verbatim “ There’s not going to be oil exploration in Algarve in the very near future” … meaning its only TEMPORARY!


But the facts remain - ASMAA efforts over 8 long years, successfully prevented offshore and onshore drilling from taking place in the Algarve. ASMAA was the driving force that woke-up the Algarve since 2011 to the risk of fossil fuels, motivated the creation of many community groups to join the fight, and through its campaigns raised awareness across Portugal mainland and the islands of Açores and Madeira.


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