GALP sets (fat) cat among the pigeons

Oil company GALP has set the cat among the pigeons, reinforcing its intention to start controversial exploratory drilling off the Costa Vicentina coast (46kms from the Algarve municipality of Aljeur, 80 kms from the Alentejan town of Sines) in the spring of 2018.

GALP’s ‘so-called’ window of opportunity will be between April and June, executive president Carlos Gomes da Silva told a press conference on Monday.

It’s not ‘news’, but the declaration reinforces activists’ resolve in a week when localised protests have taken place in both the Algarve (Vila do Bispo) and Sines.

Indeed, reactions have been predictably pugnacious: “We’ll block it”, “never” and the more cautionary: “as the world waits expectantly for Solar energy, we the Portuguese discover that oil doesn’t pollute after all. Greed without end…”

The ‘good news’ is that the ‘anti’ fight – led by citizens groups and NGOs – is buoyant with the next major demonstration of ‘outrage’ scheduled for August 12 on Odeceixe beach and certain to reach a global audience (click here).

Meantime, a challenge over the legality of the law that paved the way to oil companies being granted concessions up and down the country and deep into Portugal’s maritime territory is being considered by the Attorney General’s office, and likely to report before the year is out.

Galp’s drilling plans may be set in stone, but the way ahead still looks exceedingly rocky.

Reporting on the oil companies intentions, Lusa news agency explains the offshore venture is a joint effort with Italian company ENI which holds 70% of the concession, with GALP holding the remaining 30%.

The areas involved are dubbed Santola, Lavagante and Gamba, and cover an area of “approximately 9,100 sq kms”.

Drilling “to discover the potential of the seabed” will reach depths of between 1.2 kms – 1.6 kms, with an “estimated cost” to concession holders of €1 million per day, for an estimated 45-60 days.

GALP’s profits for the first quarter of 2017 are being reported in the press today as €250 million – “€3 million more than during the first quarter of 2016”.

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