Anger as government signs deepwater drilling deal off Alentejan coast

Anger as government signs deepwater drilling deal off Alentejan coast

As the rest of the country started clocking off for Christmas – and the price of crude dropped to an all -time low – the Portuguese government was busy signing a new deal for deepwater drilling off the Alentejan coast.
It’s a move that has sparked criticism from citizens group ASMAA which has long been campaigning against oil and gas exploration saying it threatens tourism.
ASMAA’s campaign has been focused on the threat of exploration out to sea along the Algarve, so it came as a shock for the group to near Italian oil company ENI had just signed a deal awarding it a 70% stake in three offshore blocks.
In a statement put out on Friday, ASMAA said: “Typically December has been the month to get things done without too much scrutiny from public and interested bodies – and the closer you get to Christmas the better it is for sneaking anything through as the majority of people are deeply involved in festivity preparations, or travelling”.
Adding that “Portugal is a master of this strategy”, ASMAA also warned that the plummeting price of crude may mean nothing in the long-term.
Why would they sign this contract if the price of oil is too low to justify exploration, the group asks?
“Don’t be fooled, because there are too many interests at play”.
The new deal was signed in Belém Cultural Centre, in the presence of Energy minister Jorge Moreira da Silva.
It effectively added a year to exploration contracts awarded in 2007 to GALP, which retains the remaining 30% stake.
GALP is reported to have spent around 70 million euros in the last two years analysing data on the Alentejo basin, but there are still “no guarantees that hydrocarbons (gas and oil) will be found, writes Público.
And Expresso points out that deepwater exploration is extremely expensive – a factor that should make this project “less than profitable” for any oil company.
ENI’s partnership deal with GALP extends to other projects, writes Expresso. “One of the most relevant of which is in Mozambique where the two companies are involved in developing one of the largest natural gas fields in the world”.