The Canary Islands, the Marseille area and Hossegor host fantastic waves, but for how long? They are currently being put under threat by three major oil and gas projects planned by major energy companies such as Repsol, Melrose & Noble, EDF and Gazprom. The basic idea consists of drilling for oil near the coast, storing the gas deep underground and rejecting the waste in the ocean. These heavily criticised projects have undergone environmental studies and as usual, their risks have been massively underrated. Oil and gas giants all seem to suffer from the same thing: short memory syndrome. The worst is never supposed to happen until it does. A few months ago, The Guardian revealed that oil and gas platform leaks happen almost every week in North Sea waters.
Petrol makes waves in the Canary Islands
Repsol, the main Spanish oil multinational, is trying hard to fool people with their new campaign: « Imagination, the best natural resource ». But in the Canary Islands, Repsol has somewhat of a more dirty future in mind. I’m not sure most of the residents share the same dream for tomorrow. As Sabrina L Williams explains in a very detailed article on her blog, « Repsol announced on Friday 16th March 2012 that oil prospects will go ahead in the Canary Islands as it is the “biggest discovery of hydrocarbon in Spanish history”. Oil exploration will take place between Fuerteventura and Lanzarote in a bid to kick-start the islands’ and subsequently, Spain’s flagging economy. The vast majority are not as enthused by recent developments as Paulino Rivero, President of the Canarian Government concurs in a statement, “The archipelago would use all legal means at its disposal to stop the oil exploration from taking place.” » more
Anyone who has been to the Canary Islands knows its huge potential for solar and wind energy. It’s interesting to see the Spanish government using the economic crisis as a tool to push oil mining forward, putting the Spaniard against the wall. But will mining solve any economic problems? Will gas prices decrease? Will people get more jobs? Will Canarian residents have a better life? There is NO evidence of any positive impact. On the contrary. Instead, Repsol will make money putting heavy pressure on marine life, the coastal area and local economy. In the past, nobody complained, until a huge spill took place, but now people understand the threat and they are ready to fight! But it’s not going to be an easy one. Repsol, who just got kicked out of Argentina by the government that nationalized all of its assets, is probably willing to drill harder than ever. A public consultancy on environmental impact is the next step for the Repsol project. Locally, Cleanoceanproject.org is leading the protest and the petition.
Hossegor fears GAS Storage
The world’s best beach breaks around Hossegor might not stay clean for much longer. Since Oct. 2011, they are under threat by the national electric company EDF. The company wants to build a huge gas storage, it’s planned to be dug underground around about 30km inland. The giant project is supposed to last at least 10 years and will pump ocean water to dig the storage. Waste will be rejected right back into the ocean, less than one mile out. The waste will be mostly composed of brine. The quantity dumped in the ocean will approach one hundred and forty trucks a day! The result is a massive threat to water quality, marine life, local economy, tourism etc… Don’t let them turn Les Landes into the Dead Sea.
Les Landes Surfers against Speculators
Locally, opposition is rising. Few people know that EDF is already drilling. Environmentally, it’s a massive threat to the area, and economically, it’s not good either. Gas storage will not profit anyone in the area since there is no gas power plant anywhere around. Very few jobs will be created. Speculation on gas prices seems to be the key to the project. Locals will loose their pristine beaches to a uncertain gain in the future. This needs to be stopped. As in the Canary Islands, local authorities and people have a very negative view on the project. But the national electric company EDF is still going through the result of the half dozen public debates that took place in the past month. Final decision should be made tomorrow the 18th of June. The Eurosima, representing the surfing industry, has recently taken position against the project as well, by the voice of its president Fred Basse. Local activists are doing a very good job of getting the word out but NOTHING is gained so far, it’s still time to sign the petition if it’s not done yet. Stay tune on www.stockage-gaz-landes.net/ for updates.
Drilling the Med
Will Marseille ever become richer than Dubai? I doubt it. Same for surfing, it will never become better than the Atlantic coast but still, quite a few exciting reef and beach breaks give the locals their fair share of waves year round. For those guys, the big oil project 30 km offshore of Marseille means a lot. Right now, Melrose & Noble battle to extend its permit to do research in the area. If they obtain it, they plan to start drilling in 2013 for a duration of 50 years. Nearby is a natural reserve, one of the biggest in France, with heavy environmental regulations. If a spill happens, it won’t take long before it hits the coast. For such a populated area, this would be disastrous, not even talking about the whales and dolphin living in the area. Here also big protests are occurring and petitions are ongoing.
All these projects have in common public consultations and those have major impacts. In the past, Repsol had to abandon diverse oil mining projects due to strong public opposition, same for EDF in France.
It’s time to say NO, people! Many petitions are available online, take your pick!