Portugal Gov't Defends Controversial Oil Project

Portugal Gov't Defends Controversial Oil ProjectPortugal Gov't Defends Controversial Oil Project

The Portuguese government on Friday defended its decision not to order an environmental impact study for an oil project facing criticism in parliament.

The Portuguese Environment Agency (APA), a public institute within the scope of the Environment Ministry, announced Wednesday that an environmental impact assessment would not be requested for the oil project in south Portugal.

Joao Matos Fernandes, Portugal's environment minister, said it was "a technical decision, not a political one," Xinhua reported.

But Heloisa Apolonia of the Green Ecologist Party (PEV) said the decision "had totally discredited the government in terms of environmental policy."

A consortium comprising Portugal's Galp Energy and Italy's Eni told the Lusa Portuguese News Agency on Thursday that they planned to drill the oil exploration later this year. It would mark the resumption of drilling in Portugal after a long hiatus.

The site of the oil project is some 46 km from Aljezur, a coastal town south of Lisbon. The consortium was granted a concession to explore the presence of hydrocarbons in the area in December 2014.

 Total Incapacity

Opponents of the project say potential damage to the environment and the tourism industry has not been given due consideration. "As happened with previous Social Democrat, Central Social Democrat and Socialist Party legislatures, the Environment Ministry is showing its total lack of political force within government," said Apolonia.

Fernandes said there was no legal obligation to conduct an assessment. But Paulo Sa of the Portuguese Communist Party said an assessment should be conducted whether legally required or not, "because the local residents and council demand one."

Jorge Costa of the Left Block said the government's oversight is "extremely serious" and asked authorities to reconsider.


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