With drilling plans by GALP and Repsol back in the news this week, anti-oil campaigners are preparing for a showdown in parliament.
Wednesday October 26 sees the petition presented by PALP, the platform made up of various environmental NGOs, come up for debate just as the government is due to consider whether or not to renew drilling licences in various concessions along the Algarve and Alentejan coast.
PALP’s attack is on all sides.
It means to show that the government’s contention that it is ‘protecting the higher interests of the country’ is completely bogus.
Proof of this fallacy can be found, says PALP, in the ‘advertisement’ of Repsol’s Algarve concessions on the open-market.
The contacts are described on website hydrocarbondeals.com as “very favourable” and with “low commitments”.
In other words, they cannot possibly be the ‘best deal for Portugal’ that pro-oil campaigners like to say they are.
PALP’s other concern is to shootdown the “evaluation” given by the Attorney General last month which suggests there is “no margin to annul” onshore licences that cover almost every borough of the Algarve (click here).
Backed by the government’s left-wing allies – who are all dead against fossil fuel exploration – PALP is already busy organising buses to take campaigners up to Lisbon next Wednesday.
The group’s Facebook page has a link for people to sign up to for free transport.
Meantime, Jornal de Notícias stresses that timing is pivotal. If it is to give Repsol and GALP the drilling renewals the companies want, the government has to act before the end of the year – and the environment in which it will have to do so is distinctly messy.
As Left Bloc MP Jorge Costa explains, there is barely a voice in the Algarve in favour of hydrocarbon exploration, and the number of groups set up to fight it are now so plentiful that we are losing count.
Costa’s opinion is that the “government should hear the Algarve” and “decide to stop the oil companies” which it can now do “without any costs to the State”.
For the Left Bloc as a party, this is the time to put forward “proposals that defend the public interest and stop this process advancing into the space left by current legislation, which is 20 years old and tailored to the interests of the oil industry”.
Thus, the coming week promises to be explosive.
On Tuesday (October 18), one of the most vociferous anti-groups ASMAA will be joining others in a demonstration in Lisbon against a conference organised by APETRO (the Portuguese association of oil companies), entitled Produtos Petrolíferos e Sustentabilidade (oil-based products and sustainability).
Again, ASMAA is encouraging everyone to come along.
By coincidence, the day PALP’s petition is to be discussed, BE’s “project of resolution” over the fate of Ria Formosa islanders also comes up – the very day that authorities are due to ‘take possession’ of dozens of homes (see separate story later today).
As the islanders themselves have explained, theirs is just “another instance where the government is not looking at the best interests of local populations”.