Algarve ‘oil baron’ in bizarre attempt to get public opinion to back exploration

The Algarve’s self-styled oil baron, Portuguese millionaire Sousa Cintra – whose company Portfuel has a government licence to drill for gas and oil within 14 of the Algarve’s 16 boroughs – has launched a bizarre attempt to sway public opinion dead-set on any kind of exploration on land or at sea.

Writing to the mayor of his own borough – both a personal friend and a politician with whom his local Socialist party has “lost confidence” – Sousa Cintra bemoans what he calls the “unjustified alarmism” that has marked government attempts to get local populations onside.

In his letter to Adelino Soares, Sousa Cintra says he wants to counter all the “defamatory, injurious” voices and basically set the record straight with a “technical-scientific article”, elaborated by three Portuguese experts.

To date, we are not aware of any other mayors who have received Sousa Cintra’s letter, nor what Adelino Soares proposes to do with it.

AMAL – the association of borough councils – remains adamant that oil exploration could only damage the Algarve, and has engaged lawyers to this effect (click here).

Adelino Soares, as one of the Algarve’s mayors, is part of AMAL, and thus included in the block rejection – unless of course, Sousa Cintra’s report has changed his mind.

But as Soares’ local PS party passed a vote of no-confidence in him last year – with its president of the time saying “all the actions that Adelino Soares may do, and all his declarations as president of the Câmara, are not endorsed by the PS” – it is unclear what difference this would make anyway.

Not surprisingly, anti-oil campaigners remain unphased.

CEO of the Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association, Laurinda Seabra, said she imagined Sousa Cintra was “hoping that he would be able to do what he wants and to frack the hell out of local communities without being subject to the scrutiny of an informed local population.

“Unfortunately, we have news for him … such education and awareness-raising programs are not going to stop nor are they going away, just because he does not like it!”

As the Resident explained in our story on the last government’s decision to grant Sousa Cintra an eight-year licence to drill for oil on land throughout the Algarve (click here), experts consider his zeal an “act of faith” in which he is alone.

National fuel entity boss Paulo Carmona told us: “Our experts think there is only a remote possibility of finding oil or gas”.

Elsewhere, seasoned activist René Laudi has been reading through Sousa Cintra’s “technical scientific document” and scratching his head.

“The document contains a lot of claims but not a single reference towards their viability. Any decent scientific work contains a wealth of links and references to underlying data and other related studies, but this one instead appears to use biased and manipulative wording, stemming from political propaganda and disinformation”, he said.

The paper also uses “cherry picked examples, removed from contextual facts”, as well as arbitrarily omitting “important facts”, he added.

Calling the ‘appeal’ “intrinsically opportunistic”, Laudi’s assessment came as in Adelino Soares’ next door borough of Aljezur mayor José Amarelinho posed smiling for photographs as he received a 3-metre by 3-metre red ‘anti-fracking’ cross from local community group “Preservar Aljezur – Não ao Fracking” – the type that can be seen a bit throughout this west Algarve borough at the centre of a new drilling mystery.

Amarelinho is reported as currently “engaged” with SEPNA, the GNR’s environmental arm, to investigate an apparent drilling well designed to find water, but which has been ongoing for months near Rogil, emitting strong chemical odours and worrying locals.

The work is in the hands of Fonseca Furos – one of the companies used by oil drilling company Mohave, which is drilling for gas in Alcobaça – on land “thought to belong to Sousa Cintra”.

Amarelinho will be holding an awareness meeting for concerned citizens in Aljezur’s Espaço Multiuso on Sunday (April 10) at 3pm.

A meeting held last week, to air a documentary on the “environmental holocaust” caused by gas and oil drilling in Louisiana, USA, attracted over 70 people and saw local support for the anti-oil campaign reinforced.

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