Gulbenkian foundation accused of abandoning oil team that made it money

The Gulbenkian foundation is under fire this week for ‘abandoning’ the team that helped finance its humanitarian efforts.

Partex Services Portugal (focused on oil and gas exploration) was ‘cut loose’ in a surprise move by the foundation over a year ago (click here).

The reason (though never fully acknowledged) seemed to stem from the fact that oil production has been demonised in the popular fight to ‘save the planet’.

But selling Partex – which subsidised Gulbenkian’s budget to the tune of roughly 40% – has been no easy matter.

First there was to be a deal with the Chinese. Then that came a cropper when the company involved was found to be mired in corruption (click here).

Now, a sale to Thai company PTTEP is being painstakingly negotiated – but Partex staff want some guarantees.

Indeed, they are challenging the sale in court, insisting guarantees – at least for the next two years – are given.

Said a source for the ‘GRP’ (representative group of Partex), what upsets the 50 workers affected most is that the Gulbenkian foundation “refuses to enter into dialogue to create a safety net for the first two years” post-sale.

This is not the way to treat people who “have worked for decades to contribute to the wealth of the foundation”, said the source, explaining colleagues feel they have been “put to one side”.

“The foundation cannot shirk its responsibility”, added the source, suggesting Gulbenkian’s administrative council president Isabel Mota had “guaranteed that we were part of the Gulbenkian family”.

“We are not against the sale”, stressed the source. “We just don’t want to lose from it”.

Partex’s CEO António Costa Silva is clearly not as concerned over the prospects of the deal with PTTEP, telling TSF radio recently that the company ‘doesn’t have a culture of laying people off’.

He said that he believes Partex’s future lies with PTTEP, and that this future will be focused on the exploration of gas.

The demonising of fossil fuels “is not fair”, he told the station, agreeing that there have been “excesses, particularly in the issue of CO2 emissions, but carbon is a molecule of life. We cannot decarbonise the planet and the existence of CO2 in the atmosphere is beneficial in many aspects as it impedes lethal radiation from reaching us.

“Solutions are simple”, Costa Silva concluded. “Coal-fired power plants have to be substituted by gas-fire power plants which emit 60% lower levels of CO2”.

The CEO added that the deal with Thailand’s PTTEP should be concluded by the end of this year.

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