Loulé court’s decision to ban the drilling project put forward by Galp-ENI has been overturned in the southern administrative court.
The muddle continues over the oil drilling programme as this latest court decision means the oil concession holder can go ahead and drill off Aljezur but, despite failing publicly to confirm its intentions, maintains that it has given up the struggle to assert its rights and no longer has any interest in finding oil or gas off the Portuguese coast.
The government has been helping the oil companies with their court actions in defence of environmental injunctions, the State using taxpayers’ money to ram home concession holders’ rights to explore for hydrocarbon deposits.
The prime minister has stated that there will be no new concessions granted during the life of the current government, with the implication that it will be another concession licence free-for-all after the autumn election which the Socialists are likely to win.
The court decision that has been overturned was instigated by anti-oil association, PALP, with ASMAA still embroiled in a legal fight to see all concessions ruled as illegally granted with an injunction still in place that prevents any drilling taking place.
Nobody trusts anyone in this cat-and-mouse game, set against a backdrop of a government support for big oil. Local environmental associations are adept at the legal and court systems and are proving to be stiff opposition for companies that, hitherto, have been able to behave with impunity.