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“Small victory” as GALP/ ENI suspend drilling off Aljezur coast

The news came late yesterday (Friday): Plans by oil giants GALP/ ENI to drill for oil 45 km off the coast of Aljezur have been suspended indefinitely due to the extension for public consultation won by anti-oil campaigners (click here).

GALP’s CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva told journalists yesterday that the companies had effectively lost their window of opportunity this year.

Logistical infrastructure (the Saipem drilling ship) had been “fully prepared” and under contract to start work on July 1, but when the time for public consultation was extended to August 3, oil bosses sought to cut their losses.

“We had expenses”, he claimed. “Everything was prepared.

“We will see next year if the investment is there, if there are the conditions and if it is worth it”, he added, refusing to quantify the money the joint venture had already cost.

Diário de Notícias described Gomes da Silva as saying he was “not authorised to divulge” the amount of money at issue, but he did suggest that the exploratory drilling would have been “important for the country” – an attitude that has found little support among the general population which is showing itself more and more to be against Portugal’s apparent preparedness to cave the country up for gas and oil exploration (click here).

Reacting to the news, campaigners have been guarded.

“Can we call it a victory? Asks ASMAA, the Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association that has been battling against the granting of oil and gas concessions across national territory for the last five years. “Not at all. It is only a breathing space as they have not indicated that they are pulling out. It is ONLY a suspension. Nonetheless it deserves celebration. Join us in Praia da Arrifana on Saturday and Sunday where we will be highlighting the risks of oil and gas exploration, gathering signatures for our petitions and available for discussions with the public”.

As the Resident has already reported, anti-oil campaigners are gearing up to take advantage of the summer crowds to push their agenda and go all-out to raise awareness over what they see as the risks to the economy, environment and sustainability of the country if oil and gas exploration is allowed to go ahead.

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PHOTO: By Joe Stokes and depicting ASMAA CEO Laurinda Seabra at a recent ‘manifesta’ against exploratory drilling off Aljezur