Balearic Islands: Surrounded by Oil Exploitation Projects

27 de diciembre de 2013

The Alliance Mar Blava  denounces the procedures of the environmental impact assessment, saying the impact of these projects is not being correctly investigated.

A strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of all the oil exploration projects, should be undertaken.

The Mar Blava Alliance or Alliance Mar Blava has published a new interactive map on its website https://alianzamarblava.org/en/petroleum/map/ with Google Earth™ technology. The interactive map shows all the proposed sites and projects for the exploration and exploitation of the hydrocarbons (petrol oil and gas)  in the Balearic-levantino-catalan area and these can be seen to practically surround the Balearic archipelago.

These oil exploration projects aim to extract petrol and/or gas in the sub-sea floor.  It is about oil prospecting in “deep waters” by means of oil rig platforms in high seas.  They are projects of the same nature as the one that provoked one of the biggest crude oil spills in history: that of the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico in May 2011.

These projects of exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons consist, basically, of three phases: 1) Seismic surveys (to make a map of the geological formations of the marine subsoil); 2) Exploration drilling (if during the surveys geological formations that could potentially contain hydrocarbon appear) for the perforation of oil wells and, finally; 1) Commercial exploitation of the oil wells, If significant discoveries are found.

The projects in question are:

  • “3D seismic acquisition campaign in the B, G, AM-1 and AM-2 permissions in the gulf of Valencia,” promoter Capricorn Spain Limited (subsidiary of the Scottish oil company Cairn Energy). Location: To the Northeast of Ibiza and Formentera.

    By virtue of the licences granted by the Council of Ministers, Cairn Energy has reserved the sea-bed zones of the gulf of Valencia that may be a prospect in the search for gas and oil.
    https://alianzamarblava.org/en/petroleum/current-situation/

    The current situation with this project is as follows: at the end of 2013, the study of the environmental impact assessment of the seismic surveys was made available to the public.

  • “Seismic campaign 2D in free areas of the north-west Mediterranean Balearic Sea,” promoter Spectrum Geo Limited. Location: North of Minorca and Northeast of Mallorca (phase 1) and all of the south of the Balearic archipelago (phase 2).

    Recently, the promoter Spectrum Geo Limited has submitted an application and an environmental document to the substantive body which in turn was referred to the environmental body on the 22 of October of 2013.
    Currently, the environmental document has been sent to the administrations affected and to the entities linked with the protection of the environment.

  • “Seismic campaign in free areas of the gulf of Leon, in front of the coastlines of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands”, promoter Seabird Exploration FZLCC. Location: north of Mallorca and Minorca.

    By virtue of the licenses granted by the Council of Ministers, Cairn Energy (through Capricorn Spain Limited) has reserved zones at the sea bed of the gulf of Leon that the company Seabird intends to prospect in its search for gas and oil .
    Currently, this is at the environmental assessment stage of the seismic surveys of the Seabird Exploration FZLCC.

  • “Seismic acquisition of the área of Casablanca, in front of the coasts of Tarragona”, promoter Repsol Petroliferous Investigations S.A. (RIPSA), Location: northeast of Mallorca.

    Whilst waiting for the outcome of the Environmental Impact Statement corresponding to the exploratory drilling of Respol; If the EIS is positive, Repsol would proceed to the exploratory drillings.

 

The Alliance Mar Blava denounces the procedures of the environmental impact assessment in carrying out their assessment of these projects. This is for two reasons.

On the one hand, the environmental impact of all of these projects is being evaluated separately, independently from one another, despite the fact that they are all related because they affect the same geographical zone (with very similar environmental and economical values in different sub-areas) and with potential synergistic effects. It would have to be considered that it is part of a Plan and not of various independent unrelated projects. A Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment should therefore be made, and not environmental assessments of separate projects, in the way it has been carried out until now. With the current procedures, it is not possible to make a real and correct assessment of the environmental impact.

On the other hand, the three phases (seismic surveys; explorative drillings and the commercial exploitation of the wells) are intimately related, forming part of the same project and their effects can be cumulative.  For that reason an assessment fragmented into phases cannot be made, as it has been up until now.

The phases of seismic surveys (being evaluated now in the gulf of Valencia, gulf of Lion and the North-Western Balearic Mediterranean sea) cannot be separated from the possible previous exploration and exploitation of the deposits of hydrocarbons that may be found on the base of the sea-bed. Any of the three phases mentioned could have serious impacts on the environment and the economy of the Balearic coasts and the Peninsula, as well as affecting the sectors of tourism and fishing.

The objective pursued by the promoter to break up the project into phases and apply for environmental assessments separately is isolating the effects and impacts of each one of these phases of investigation, exploration and exploitation, and sends out the message that the consequences will be minimal.
Over the next months, The Alliance Mar Blava will work from different fields in order to ensure that the process of the environmental assessment is carried out correctly. (A Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of all of the projects, which is also done conjunctively and not broken up into phases). In addition, it will fight to ensure that the Zero Alternative (meaning No go ahead) should be considered seriously and that the process concludes with the publication of a negative Environmental Impact Statement.

The Alliance Mar Blava is an intersectorial Alliance comprising various public administrations, entities from the potentially affected economic sectors such as fisheries, tourism and nautical groups, social and environmental organisations, syndicates and public and private institutions.  (for the list of members please see this link: https://alianzamarblava.org/en/about-us/members/).

Its multi-sectoral structure, with every type of sector involved, including the local and island-wide Administration, gives the Alliance Mar Blava an extraordinarily high and unprecedented representation. The union of all those actors working together towards a common goal is a milestone of great social relevance, rarely achieved before.
The Alliance Mar Blava was born with the objective to completely stop the investigation (and subsequent exploitation) of hydrocarbons promoted by the oil company Cairn Energy off the west coast of Ibiza and Formentera in the gulf of Valencia. Its purpose is also to preserve the environmental richness that makes the Balearic Islands a unique place, as well as safe guarding the employment and wellbeing of its residents and the rights of future generations to enjoy a well preserved environment. The Alliance is also working to fight the remaining oil projects mentioned before.

END OF PRESS STATEMENT

For further information: Carlos Bravo, tel. 626 99 82 41.

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