Plans to prospect oil and gas off the coast of the Algarve and Alentejo regions have been questioned by the Algarve politician Mendes Bota.
The controversial plans to search for oil and gas off the Algarvian coast have been called into question by Mendes Bota who has formally asked the Portuguese government to provide details of the prospecting rights that are currently being awarded in the case according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa.
Mendes Bota, the deputy of the PSD party, is looking for details about the companies that have been granted permission to look for natural resources of oil and gas in the Algarve to ensure that the bids have been dealt with both fairly and in the interests of the Algarve and the general economy of the region.
He has approached the Court of Auditors (Tribunal de Contas) to ask then to reveal information about the deals that have already taken place.
Mendes Bota told Lusa: “We would like to know whether the Court was called in the context of its powers to rule on the correctness of such contracts law and that national interests were adequately safeguarded and protected in the case.”
According to Mendes Bota the Portuguese government signed three contracts for the prospecting and exploration of oil in an offshore area that covers both the Algarve and Alentejo back in 2007. This situation then changed three years later with the contract being transferred to another consortium.
Meanwhile, last October the current ruling government signed two contracts with further additions to them to the consortium formed by the Spanish company Repsol and RWE from Germany. This new consortium had the rights to search for oil in the Algarve.
The latest twist in who will be searching and drilling for natural resources in the Algarve came in April this year when RWE backed out of the consortium it held with Repsol due to financial rejigging.
Repsol are now looking for new partners to help shoulder the considerable investment in the project that is looking like costing around $83 million, with $65 million of this being used to fund drilling projects.
With so many changes taking place in the case Mendes Bota is concerned that the Algarve may lose out on any economic benefits and wants to ensure that the project has been dealt with in a fair way by the Portuguese government.
The PSD party have been against the exploration of oil and gas in the Algarve since the subject was first raised.
The party claims that the projects would have devastating environmental effects on the Algarve region and would be of little economic advantage to Portuguese companies.
A movement against the plans for the exploration of oil and gas in the Algarve was also set up in April. The members of MALP now intend to collect signatures for a petition against the oil and gas prospecting plans in the Algarve which they will then present to the Portuguese government.