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Questions in parliament as Rogil’s foaming borehole “could be a blind for oil prospection”

“Inconvenient questions” are being addressed to the environment ministry this week as it appears that self-styled Algarve oil baron Sousa Cintra – the millionaire former president of Sporting FC – could be trying to hoodwink everyone by drilling for oil in a rural corner of Rogil.

Drilling apparatus has been on site for months now, and water – which was the reason purported for drilling in the first place – was discovered back in January.

Thus, anti-oil campaigners and left-wing MPs are ‘almost certain’ these are not conventional water boreholes.

Added to the “strong smell of chemicals” that has emanated from the site, recent images show a ‘sea of foam’ spewing from a well-head and covering large amounts of ground in and outside the fenced area of the site.

Residents are reported to have “felt vibrations” in their homes, and noise has been intrusive.

National tabloid Correio da Manhã reports today that left bloc MPs João Vasconcelos and Jorge Costa have questioned the government on what is really going on and “want an answer from the environment ministry as to the real use of these wells”.

Meantime, anti-oil campaigners are losing patience over the lack of progress on recent stories suggesting Sousa Cintra’s contracts – signed in the final days of the last government – were to be withdrawn for failing to comply with many of the legal stipulations (click here) . Indeed, ASMAA claims it is now taking steps to initiate legal action should AMAL fail to act.

Lusa’s Sérgio Luisa has explained in an article about the oil-concessions ‘free-for-all’ in the run-up to the elections that licences were handed out like confetti.

“If haste is a good advisor, the eve of the elections was a time of indecent haste”, were his actual words in an article that ended: “Why shouldn’t Sousa Cintra and others have made use of the banquet?”

Portfuel – Cintra’s so-called oil prospection company – is an “empty shell” according to Sérgio Luisa, which doesn’t have workers, but through “the political will of former environment minister Jorge Moreira da Silva” now has a licence to drill over 3000 sq kms of the Algarve, for the next 40 years.

Posting 40 photographs of the sea of foam that is now running into a small stream, Laurinda Seabra, CEO of ASMAA – the anti-oil group in collaboration with community groups throughout the Algarve – told the Resident: “We need answers, and we need them fast”.

ASMAA launches ‘massive fundraiser’ to ensure anti-oil petition reaches all Algarve homes

With all Algarve municipalities speaking out against regional oil prospection both on land and sea, ASMAA is now rallying supporters for its latest petition that seeks to reinforce the anti- lobby’s stance.

“We cannot drop our defences for a moment”, Seabra told us.

“It is quite possible that Algarve mayors will throttle back if the government agrees to drop the onshore concessions of Sousa Cintra, but any kind of drilling will affect our environment and the Algarve’s way of life”.

The campaign will see 150,000 petition forms supported by an information flyer landing in post boxes and homes across the Algarve in 83 freguesias and 16 council areas next month.

ASMAA tells us there are currently approximately 200,000 families living in the Algarve, and the group means to reach every single one of them.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com