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Posted by portugalpress on May 16, 2018

The final deception, in anti-oil campaigners eyes, was spelled out by Portugal’s environmental agency APA this afternoon: the government entity can see no reason for a study into the environmental impact of a offshore well extracting oil and/ or natural gas from the depths of the seabed off Aljezur.

The press conference at 4.30pm today is being followed by a second one, as we write this text, involving minister of foreign affairs Augusto Santos Silva, environment minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes and energy minister José Seguro Santos.

Whatever they say, environmental activists are treating this as ‘war’.

“Governments are not in place to look after the interests of the people. They are here to protect the interests of corporations”, said Laurinda Seabra, CEO of ASMAA - one of the most vocal players in this Herculean battle to save the country from oil exploration.

As Seabra prepares for legal steps in a bid to stymy drilling, she is also en-route for Fátima/ Alcobaça where separate contracts open the way for ‘fracking’ (hydraulic fracturing of shale gas).

“I expected this from APA”, she told us. “But I am still gutted”.

Fellow campaigner João Camargo of Lisbon climate change group Climáximo says the government is turning Portugal into an “environmental offshore” where there is no need to conform to any kind of protective legislation.

This is a government acting as “hired killers for the oil industry”, he said, preparing for a press conference in Lisbon.

Quercus, the country’s oldest environmental NGO has also come out with indignation, saying APA’s decision is simply “wrong”.

President João Branco stressed oil prospection carries risks “in several phases of the process, making it undesirable for taking place along the shores of Portugal, a country focused on tourism and fishing”.

“The government should go back on this decision and promote a procedure of environmental impact - a transparent process”, he said, suggesting, explains Rádio Renascença, that the interests of the GALP/ ENI consortium have been put first.

Branco also highlighted the fact that this decision flies in the face of the thousands of people who have already signed their names to petitions and declarations rejecting fossil fuel exploration in virgin country.

When exactly the well will be sunk is still unclear. What is clear is that protesters will not give up.

Laurinda Seabra is already talking of a “massive” week-long protest outside parliament, while her group ASMAA has been working round the clock on the wording of a legal bid to embargo the process.

This is not the first time civic groups have called for the resignation of APA president Nuno Lacasta who justified this latest decision on the basis that “no significant negative impacts were identified” in the sinking of an oil well in the unpolluted waters of what is otherwise classified as a protected coastline.

Photo: the Saipem 12000 drilling ship that will sink the well 46 kms off the coast of Aljezur