New Algarve pro-oil company hails former international arms dealer as one of its champions

The Algarve woke up this morning to a new pro-oil exploration company, which has not only filched the name of an anti-oil campaign run by a local NGO, it has aligned itself with a man described by UK’s Guardian as an international arms dealer.

Oilgarve – whose short description is “a private company based in the Algarve” – claims that Mr Charles Masefield played an important role in the success of the process that has seen the government grant multiple hydrocarbon exploration licences for southern Portugal.

“Mr Charles Masefield is a great man and has worked very hard for the Algarve region,” the Facebook page declares – omitting to mention Masefield’s knighthood, or the fact that he is alleged to have had a “lifetime in the arms trade” (Guardian, June 8 2007)

Insisting oil exploration is the future for the Algarve, the page has incensed anti-oil campaigners ASMAA, also running a Facebook page and anti-oil campaign with the same name.

“This must have been done to create confusion,” leading campaigner Laurinda Seabra told us on Friday afternoon.

“The page is carrying a lot of information that is false. It is even threatening people who challenge what it is saying.

“We are trying to get to the bottom of it”.

Bizarrely this is not the first time Sir Charles Mansfield’s name has appeared with regard to Algarve oil exploration.

Earlier this year (click here national weekly Sábado carried an exclusive on how a sister company connected to a firm of which Sir Charles is chairman had located six oil and gas reserves in Portugal “expected to contain at least one billion barrels of oil and 30% more natural gas”.

The find was “equivalent to more than €43 billion” but IONIQ Resources – as Sábado called the company – was refusing to reveal the oil-rich locations until the Portuguese government had paid it €8.2 million.

Considered locally as a scam, Sábado nonetheless said Portuguese prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho and his minister for environment and energy – none other than the man dubbed Public Enemy No. 1 by hundreds of Algarvians who risk losing their island homes in Ria Formosa – had met with IONIQ representatives, but ended up taking the matter no further.

Damon Walker, described as IONIQ’s administrator for Portugal, was presented as being put out by the government’s lack of excitement.

“This (deal) is worth billions and they haven’t even had the courtesy to respond to us,” he is quoted as having told Sábado.

With Sir Charles Masefield as the chairman of IONIQ Capital Partners, Sábado alluded to his links with arms dealing, suggesting however that he was connected in this regard to “a discreet department of the British government”.

As investigations continue as to who exactly is behind this new Oilgarve page and how much IONIQ has to do with it, its appearance on the scene follows new information on exploration licences.

Government website ENMC would suggest fracking licences are now available throughout the Algarve.

It is a new concern being battled by anti-oil campaigners ASMAA, who are still bemused as to what Oilgarve seeks to achieve.

This far it claims to have a website (not functioning) and be aligned to a Texas-based company whose motto is “we love what we do and we do it well”.

If it was April 1, this story would be easy to explain. As it is anti-oil campaigners say they are working hard to expose what they are certain is another scam to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

Quite why, though, remains the question.

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