Oil drilling confusion persists in run-up to council elections

As crucial council elections are now at the door, confusion persists over whether or not the Algarve’s first drill site will be going ahead next spring off the coast of Aljezur.

Earlier this month, national press ran with articles along the lines of “we’re in the clear”.

Said Expresso: “the last window of opportunity to advance with oil prospection on the Costa Vicentina, 46 kms from Aljezur, ran out of time in June, and the concession contract is also about to expire. With its close ends authorisations that exist to seek hydrocarbons in the Portuguese sea”.

Sadly, Expresso appears to have been mistaken.

Today, we’re back to reality with a bump with news that not only are all the plans for drilling still very much on course, they may even win ‘extensions’ to their time limits.

Meantime, activists’ campaigns to keep this issue high as citizens consider who they would like to represent them in borough councils have not managed to hold public attention in the way they had hoped.

To a large extent, “fake news” like Expresso’s will not have helped.

Today, tabloid Correio da Manhã sounds the alert, giving Secretary of State for Energy Jorge Seguro Santos one of its “thumbs down”.

Reiterating the warnings of a protest made in Vila do Bispo in July, campaigners have written to him, pushing for the “exercise of the principle of precaution” (click here). But as CM explains, Seguro Santos and the government are “maintaining” the contract with the consortium jointly held by fuel companies Galp and ENI, and drilling is forecast to get started in 2018.

With council elections now just two weeks away, the issue of oil and gas drilling in concessions that cover most of the country’s coastline and a number of onshore areas has bizarrely taken a back-seat.

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