Re: Letter ‘Advantages of offshore oil and gas industry in Portugal’

Dear Editor,
I understand Mr. Sheppard defends his trade. And surely, he has a point in stating that all consumers benefit from energy production, since we all want to maintain our present way of life, so we need energy – not necessarily oil though.
From my experience, no company invests anything without a fair chance of return.
So the chance of NOT finding a reservoir is academic; they did their homework.
The question is not if, but where and how many locations will be exploited for production once the licences are granted. And if they prove to find oil (the promise of BIG MONEY to the state), they will find a way to get a pipeline, storage tanks and docking facilities for oil tankers, all presenting risks of spills, however small or huge they may be…
Producing oil offshore holds more risks than in onshore locations. Mishaps on sea are just more difficult to contain and generally more disastrous than onshore. So that is something to take into the argument, as should the Ria Formosa be. No pipeline should go through it to reach the onshore facilities.
Even if the drilling is 99% safe, bringing it onshore will require the construction of industrial complexes along the coastline, starting with a pipeline from a collection point to an onshore facility. This will not go unnoticed onshore.
Then I’m not even speaking of the frequent earthquakes, or the fact that a major fault runs parallel to the coast at quite a distance. These might not be a direct threat to the drilling, but production, transport and storage onshore are at risk.
We witnessed what happened with a nuclear facility on the coast of Japan when hit by a tsunami. What will happen if a tsunami hits this new oil industry on the coastline? Will there be financial support for the fishermen and the tourism industry, like in the USA with the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? Will they compensate homeowners for the depreciation of their [holiday-] homes when the beaches are black?
Will they compensate the state and câmaras for the lost IVA and taxes of the tourists that didn’t come for 10 years after the spill? This should all be taken into account.
So I think there should be a clear perspective: does Portugal want [need] short term gains for the nation and remain with the heritage of this temporary activity for many future generations locally? Or should the Algarve focus on what it does best; sell its beauty and clear air and sea to tourists, bringing a lot of jobs like it did for the last 40-odd years, and taxes to the state… At least a lot more jobs derive from tourism than an oil transit facility would ever bring.
I think that Portugal and Spain are in the best position to produce solar and wind energy in the whole of Europe, so that could cover the demand locally, and undercut the argument of being selfish towards Ms.Wylde and other consumers.
Dan Verveer
The Netherlands (with a second home in Tavira)
Mining Engineer