Anti-oil campaigners describe “sickening plot”, saying people’s referendum is now vital

Against a background of growing confusion over which oil and gas concessions have really been cancelled, one of the Algarve’s punchiest people’s groups has issued a damning new report on what it calls the “sickening plot” to basically pull the wool over people’s eyes as backroom deals are forged with oil companies.

According to ASMAA (Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association), the Galp/ ENI concession off the coast of Aljezur is not only ready to go ahead very soon, logistics have been in place since even before the so-called period for public consultation – a requirement under EU law.

In fact, a company was being recruited to run the operation even before Galp/ ENI were awarded the necessary TUPEM drilling licence.

Medserv Energy set up a ‘pop-up’ supply base and site in the Port of Sines, says ASMAA CEO Laurinda Seabra, in April/ May last year – a full four weeks before the DGRM mining authority opened the initial 15-day public consultation period.

As anyone watching this issue in the press will know, that consultation period was eventually extended due to protest by civic groups.

Since then, the region’s mayors have joined the clamour of voices against oil and gas exploration in the Algarve. But campaigners worry is that this is all ‘cosmetic’ – smoke in people’s eyes.

For despite all the battles ‘won’, the 42,000 objections presented to parliament and a 26,000-strong petition still to be debated, the time-extensions given to public consultation, the announcements even that certain contracts have been rescinded (click here), the truth seems to be that it is business as usual.

Thus ASMAA says it is time for a public referendum, to show the government exactly how the region feels and ask these salient questions:

Why was Medserv Energy given access to Sines Port before the start of the public consultation process, and who gave this authorisation?

Meantime, other anti-oil groups are lobbying the government to try and get some straight answers.

PALP, the platform for an oil-free Algarve, has been joined by ALA (Alentejo Litoral Ambiente) Climaximo (Lisbon), Tavira em Transição, Stop Petróleo Vila do Bispo, Grupo Preservar Aljezur and MALP (Movement for an oil-free Algarve) to appeal to the government to “respect the right of populations to a healthy environment”.

The mood is more determined than ever, said Seabra, who is now appealing “to all residents, especially in the Western Algarve and Alentejo to rise-up against this major threat to their way of living, the environment and the economy”.

Seabra and Climaximo’s João Camargo will be attending new public awareness sessions in Odemira, Milfontes and Sines later this month (details to follow).

[email protected]