Mayors take legal action to stop Algarve oil plans

The Algarve’s municipalities association (AMAL) has lodged two injunctions against the Portuguese government for approving onshore and offshore oil contracts from the ENI/Galp consortium and Portfuel.

The first injunction concerns the ENI/GALP consortium’s offshore oil and gas concession and the second the onshore concession granted to Portfuel, the company owned by oil baron Sousa Cintra.

Both were lodged yesterday (July 14) at Loulé’s Administrative Court.

“The goal is to stop the material acts related to the execution of these contracts, which violate national and European laws,” AMAL president and Tavira mayor Jorge Botelho told Lusa news agency.

The immediate plan is to “suspend the oil exploration activities that are scheduled”, but the objective is to “annul the contracts”, Botelho, representing the region’s 16 mayors, explained.

AMAL also has a group of “specialists and witnesses” to back up their claims such as anti-oil campaigners PALP and ASMAA.

Essentially, their belief is that oil exploration and extraction in the Algarve “is not compatible with tourism or with plans to develop a model of clean energy and zero use of carbon,” he added.

The many environmental risks drilling and extracting oil present have been the cornerstone of the Algarve’s anti-oil campaign.

Quercus applauds mayors

Meantime, environmental group Quercus has applauded the Algarve mayors for taking such a firm stance against the region’s oil plans.

In a statement, Quercus agreed that oil exploration in the Algarve would be a “disaster” on many levels – not just for tourism, but also for marine biodiversity.

The group also warns that drilling for oil could increase the risks of earthquakes, and that while oil industry could create more jobs locally, it would not compensate the long list of risks associated with the activity.

Quercus defends that Portugal’s efforts should instead be focused on “more solid investments in renewable energies”.