GALP “pulls out of drilling off coast of Aljezur”?

Popular tabloid Correio da Manhã is running with an exclusive this morning claiming that “Galp has pulled out of drilling off the coast of Aljezur”.

On the face of it, it’s a new victory for the anti-oil campaign that has been focusing on this concession as part of its strategy to rid the country of all concession areas awarded contracts.

Galp’s drilling – delayed by the campaign’s pressure on government last year (click here) – was due to take place this Spring. CM now suggests the consortium have ditched the idea altogether.

But has it? There are no direct quotes from Galp in CM’s text, and scant reference to Galp’s ‘partner’ ENI.

Can Galp pull out without ENI’s say so? And with the concession licence running till January 2019, could it conceivably ‘pull back in’?

Could the news this morning be a blind in the run up to the municipal elections to lull campaigners and the public, taking into account that one of the groups is developing a program to ‘map out’ municipalities that are ‘for or against’ oil exploration?

“At ASMAA we’ve been expecting something like this to happen, as to proceed with drilling at this late stage, a few months from elections, will have very negative impact on voter sentiments”, redoubtable campaigner Laurinda Seabra, recently dubbed ‘our queen’ by fervently anti-oil mayor José Amarelinho (click here), has reacted to the news.

“We believe that government is well aware of the risk – that could see control of some councils being lost to main coalition parties”, she added.

“In our opinion this state of affairs is nothing more than another move in this complex chess game between government, companies and civil society. Campaigners must not be fooled into complacency as in our opinion it is just another play in this game and not the end”.

Thus for now, campaigners will ‘bide their time’.

CM’s news will either be confirmed by other media sources, or will turn out to be another kink in this ongoing marathon that, so far, sees David giving Goliath a major run for his money.

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