Partex vows to scrap gas contract if “Portugal refuses it”

Oil giant Partex has vowed to go elsewhere with its gas exploration plans if Portugal decides it does not want them. “There are many other places in the world to go,” António Costa e Silva told Lusa news agency this week.

It’s an announcement that will delight Portugal’s many anti-oil groups that have been waging war against oil and gas exploration plans they believe pose huge environmental risks to the country.

However, Costa e Silva and his company won’t go quietly. In the same interview, he said that refusing the plans means “asphyxiating the future of Portugal’s sea”.

“Do not think that offshore wind energy will be developed without the technologies of the oil and gas industry,” said the man who in August announced that exploration activities off the Algarve coast were “under review, with no set date for drilling”.

The president of Partex, owned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and part of a consortium with Repsol, says exploration projects are still on hold to see what stance Portugal’s authorities will take on the matter.

“But we also have to consider the hostile and adverse environment that exists in the country in relation to oil and gas prospecting,” Costa e Silva admitted.

“Companies will do absolutely nothing without the endorsement and support of the authorities and also of public opinion.

“They are very pragmatic: if countries do not want them, they go elsewhere. When they feel they are not welcomed, they go elsewhere.”

Still, he insisted: ““It would be a shame if Portugal did not focus on the development of natural gas, which is the cleanest fossil fuel and is a fundamental part of solving the climate problem.”

He says “gas is a part of the solution, not the bad guy”. Thus if Portugal does not accept this, its economy will be in for a rough ride.

“A country that does not grow and has had an anaemic economy for many years, which has two million poor people, which desperately need engines for economic development and which does not have stable public policies in these areas, will suffer greatly in the future.”

He added that the “hostile environment” that has been generated will also scare away other companies.

In one more fiery attack, he said that if the country “governs for the polls, for the public opinion and populism, it isn’t going anywhere”.

Costa e Silva “deserves an Oscar”

Meantime, anti-oil groups in the Algarve have reacted with dismay to António Costa e Silva’s flaming statements.

Laurinda Seabra of ASMAA, the Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association, said he “deserves an Oscar for his performance”.

“I guess that Gulbenkian’s interest in the performing arts has led to him acquiring fantastic acting skills to portray Partex (and the oil and gas industry) as the ‘victims’ in Portugal, because the people of the Algarve failed to receive the industry with ‘open arms and a loving welcome’ – who does he think he is kidding,” she said, cited by the Algarve Daily News.

PALP has also spoken out, saying that companies are making their last-ditch attempts to take advantage of the “scandalous contracts” they signed.

“Pressuring the government into not respecting scientific knowledge or the population, using methods similar to USA’s future president Donald Trump, shows a total lack of seriousness, or maybe knowledge,” the group said in a statement.

It points out that for years oil companies said “little to nothing” about their plans.

“Now that they have been revealed and contested, companies are making an ultimatum – either they’re allowed to work or they’ll leave,” it adds.

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