asmaa image.jpg

Call for people’s referendum as Partex boss “hides truth” over Algarve gas and oil contracts

An interview given to environmental magazine ECO123 by Partex exploration boss Luís Guerreiro has prompted calls for a people’s referendum to decide once and for all whether the Algarve really wants drilling activity on its doorstep.

ASMAA, one of the most vociferous groups in the gathering campaign against gas and oil exploration, has leaped on the inconsistencies in Guerreiro’s arguments – suggesting they are just “another example of the oil industry trying to obfuscate reality”.

The group concludes that a regional People’s Referendum, taken “council by council, parish by parish” is the least that people should expect when decisions have been made that “will have a direct impact on livelihoods and on the planet”.

In the interview entitled “Gas will replace Oil”, Guerreiro deftly sidestepped the question over whether contracts only cover “exploration”, and if new ones will be needed to authorise drilling.

His answer was: “The contracts… are just for research and prospecting, if the conditions are right for going ahead commercially with the exploration, the situation will be different”.

But as ASMAA CEO Laurinda Seabra pointed out in a statement on the group’s website, either Guerreiro has not read the contracts or this is another “blatant attempt to create confusion with the population through misinformation”.

“Let’s get real – the facts are that the contracts are for all phases of the oil and gas operations, starting with the research phase and finishing with the decommissioning phase”, she writes.

In Seabra’s opinion, repeating a lie “does not make it a truth”.

On the issue of fracking too, Guerreiro’s answer was confusing.

ECO 123 asked him if he recognised the ecological risks associated with fracking, and he replied:
“If you ask me if the risk is zero, obviously it is not, but the risk is extremely low. Both Repsol and Partex do much more that what is required by law, we have nothing to hide. It is true, there are earthquakes. But there will not be any fracking. We are not going to fracture anything. We are not going to give rise to seismic activity, not (sic) will we be affected by it. I think people are scared by the NGOs with fracking, with shale gas, but the impact is minimal”.

What kind of answer is that, queries Seabra. In one breath, Partex boss says yes, there are earthquakes, in the other ‘we will not be affected by them’.

But the ‘final straw’ appears to have been the question over the transparency of contracts, signed without any form of public consultation.

“Does a company that is proposing to map and assess the country’s resources, natural and other resources, need to consult people in this way?” Guerreiro retorted. “Imagine a fishing company that tries to assess the places for fishing along the Portuguese coast, would it be necessary to hold a referendum”, he asked.

Clearly, according to ASMAA, it would.

For more on this group that is rapidly amassing followers, see ASMAA’s Facebook page.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com