Aljezur livre de furos.jpg

Anti-oil protests buy “valuable time” as government suspends exploratory drilling off Aljezur coast

The incredible efforts by Algarve anti-oil campaigners to challenge exploratory drilling off the coast near Aljezur have seen the government suspend the start of the Galp/Eni contract for a further month.

Word came through as the Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association ‘battle-bus’ was still rolling home to the Algarve from Lisbon on Wednesday (click here), and it gives the campaign valuable time in which to present all its reasons why oil contracts throughout Portugal should be ripped up.

Said the group’s CEO and former petrochemical industry engineer Laurinda Seabra, the “extension to the period of public consultation” means ASMAA now has time to finalise its report on the impact on surf tourism if oil and gas exploration is allowed to go ahead; time to set up more public awareness initiatives and possibly even time to come up with a small video.

The group’s objective is to force the country’s fuel entity ENMC/DGRM to “release more documents for public perusal and analysis” – the idea being that “non-compliances and risk areas” will then become “more identifiable”, and open to challenges, either through the courts or “other appropriate channels”.

It is an ambitious road-map and one that is being frustrated almost daily with sophisticated hacking attacks on ASMAAs website – to the point that the group sent out an appeal to the white hat hacking community via its Facebook page last night.

“As we are fighting the exploration of oil and gas in the Algarve and the rest of Portugal, some people have found delight in their misguided hacking attempts, and have been repeatedly trying to infect our site with viruses, which we have thwarted up to now,” it explained.

The site has, in fact, been taken down repeatedly since Tuesday to protect users from being infected – but ASMAA says it could do with the white hat community to “assist in this endeavour” (white hat hackers are considered to be the “ethical variety” – of which Portugal has quite a few).

The team tells us that it worked “through the night” on Thursday so that the site is now safe to navigate. Some users may still see a threat warning on some pages however.

“Currently ASMAA is in touch with Google,” Seabra told us. “We have requested a review, and are now waiting for the threat warning to be removed.” This process takes 72 hours, and ASMAA stresses that it apologises for any inconvenience caused to followers.

Meantime, the group is joining other activist groups from Aljezur, Tavira and Faro planning a São João party tomorrow (Saturday) in Aljezur.

What was initially billed as a “manifestação” (demonstration) has developed into a “Mani-festa”, says Seabra in which the campaign programme against the start of work by Galp/Eni will be followed by “lots of music”.

Starting tomorrow at 5.30pm, it is due to continue until 8pm when local bars will be screening Portugal’s next match (against Croatia) in the Euro 2016 championships.

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