Aljezur offshore oil drilling scheduled now for 2018

It’s an announcement that sneaked in under the wire on June 1, but it has anti-oil activists regrouping and sending out ultimatums.

SAIPEM, the Italian oil and gas industry contractor and subsidiary of concession company ENI, has announced that it has just won a “host of new offshore contracts” – Portugal’s Alentejo Basin being one of them.

In other words, while anti-campaigns are raging across the country, while mayors in the Algarve and Alentejo have spoken out against an activity that they say will destroy the southern region’s sustainability, it has been business as usual behind the scenes.

Says SAIPEM’s latest press release, drilling in Portugal will begin next year once two wells have been sunk in Cyprus.

Bizarrely, the news comes in a week when independent filmmakers have released a trailer entitled Oilgarve for a film due to be released in July (click here).

It also comes as anti-campaigners are demanding action from the region’s mayors who, save one: José Amarelinho in Aljezur, have been eerily quiet about the government’s refusal to ‘step back’ from fossil fuel exploration – no matter what climate change scientists predict (click here), and no matter what accords have been signed up to (click here).

Fears are that the mayors’ ‘anti-position’ will cave completely once municipal elections have been held and they are safely reelected. As campaigner Laurinda Seabra of ASMAA explained, “they may feel pressured to follow the party line”.

Thus pressure is on to keep oil exploration and people’s total condemnation of it at the forefront of campaigning, with ASMAA threatening to reveal which of the region’s mayors are ducking this fight by June 8.

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