“There’s Never Been Oil Exploration in Portugal: Let’s Keep it That Way”

On Saturday, April 14 2018, over 1000 people took to the streets of Lisbon to demand an immediate end to plans for offshore oil drilling and fracking in Portugal. In response to the approaching end of the public consultation on the drilling off the coast of Aljezur (Algarve), which the companies ENI and GALP are planning to carry out this year, over 30 organizations, including us, called for the protest. It turned out to be a resounding success.

Martin Winiecki, April 19 2018

Despite grave environmental dangers, uncertainty over the size of oil reserves and massive opposition from local populations, municipal governments and activists, the Portuguese government granted the ENI/GALP consortium a third drilling permit in January, despite many promises to the contrary it had made before. The government’s ongoing support for fossil fuel exploration projects (in addition to offshore oil drilling in the Algarve, there are plans for fracking in central Portugal in 2019) fundamentally contradicts its public announcement of turning the country “carbon neutral by 2050” and of wanting to become “one of the world’s first countries to rely exclusively on renewables.”

Impressions from Saturday’s march and voices of some leading activists:

What’s next?

On Monday, the Climate Action Network Europe awarded Portugal the European Fossil Fuel Subsidies Award 2018 for its “disregard for climate targets” and endangerment of “a beautiful biodiversity protected area and tourism hotspot.”

Earlier this month, our friends at “ASMAA” filed a class action to challenge the constitutionality of law used for gas and oil contracts. “If successful, contracts held by the ENI/GALP consortium will be declared null and void, and offshore oil and gas exploration will be put on hold for a few years,” said ASMAA’s CEO Laurinda Seabra. For their ambitious yet promising efforts to succeed, ASMAA relies on financial support of private donors.

More actions are planned, such as a mass knitting action in Lisbon, in June, to create a record-breakingly long “red line” against offshore oil drilling and a new aerial art action, which will take place during our upcoming “Defend the Sacred” gathering in August.

The activist collective Climáximo launched a new campaign site, pararofuro.pt, to coordinate the actions for preventing the oil drilling.