Warning bells as four deep offshore drilling contracts are “cancelled”

Activists in Peniche are in victory mode this week following confirmation from licensing authority ENMC that four deep-offshore drilling contracts for areas off the coast from Lisbon to Porto have been cancelled.

The movement has published a jubilant text over social media, which it has copied to all the relevant local authorities.

But it may not be quite the victory it seems.

Warning has come from an apparent ‘inside source’ that the contracts were removed from the ENMC site so that they could be “scrutinised for loopholes”.

Far from having the desired effect, activists’ arguments against their legality may be being used to ‘doubly ensure’ future deals.

“There are negotiations ongoing for new contracts”, said the source.

The Resident has been in contact with the ENMC to try and discover why the contracts have been removed from its official site.

We were told to put all our questions in writing, and send them to a general email address.

We were told that there was no-one at the ENMC available to speak to the press.

A little like the ‘victory’ in the Algarve, where on- and offshore contracts miraculously disappeared after citizens mobilised, the offshore threat remains real and in plain sight (click here) on the ENMC website.

Say campaigners elsewhere in the country, “this is definitely not the end. We have to keep fighting”.

Undaunted, Peniche Livre de Petróleo has thanked everyone who it believes helped contribute to the contracts’ cancellations, saying that in this year of “extreme drought” in which the country was ravaged by fires, it is more urgent than ever to cancel all contracts and “seriously promote the transition to renewable energies, this way combatting climate change”.

The only apparent threats remaining active and under contract are those to the Alentejo Basin: Lavagante, Santola and Gamba, and the massive onshore concessions purchased by Australis Oil and Gas (click here).

Says Peniche Livre de Petróleo: “We appeal to all the municipal councils where territories are included in the contracts with Australis – denominated Pombal and Batalha – to publicly manifest their opposition to the installation of the oil industry”.

The 11 councils involved are: Pombal, Soure, Leiria, Marinha Grande, Batalha, Nazaré, Alcobaça, Porto de Mós, Caldas da Rainha, Santarém and Rio Maior. As Australis said in one of its official bulletins, “620,000 contiguous acres”, many of which by coincidence were also severely damaged this year by wildfires.

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