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August 1, 2011

Oil Company set to destroy marine habitats with the Spanish government’s permission


Spain’s beautiful Costa Del Sol, a tourist destination for millions, is under threat from Repsol, and oil company with plans to prospect for gas in the area, and some incredible habitats and marine animals that we just recently documented as part of our latest Ranger Expedition are in danger of being destroyed.

Repsol wants to explore the seabed 9 kms off the coast of Malaga, and their request is being supported by the Spanish Ministry for the Environment, which released a positive Environmental Impact statement on the project.

So what’s the problem you may ask? Simple: The Ministry is wrong, and we have the proof of it. Oceana filmed that very seabed with an underwater robot (ROV) just a few days ago, and we documented threatened species that are protected by national and international regulations.  We found important habitats such as oyster reefs, white-cluster anemones, gorgonian gardens and extensions of sponges and deep-sea ascidia in the exact location that Repsol plans to destroy in its search for hydrocarbons.

“Repsol’s and the Spanish Ministry for the Environment’s attitudes are outrageous. They have either conducted an Impact Assessment and are hiding all this information from the public, or they have not even bothered to study the area that will be affected by these activities”, says Ricardo Aguilar, Research Director at Oceana in Europe.

The fact is that Repsol’s exploration will destroy critical habitats and damage both fragile and endangered ecosystems. It’s a losing situation no matter how you look at it.

If you want to learn more about this issue, you can check out our press release here.

For now, we’ll leave you with a quote from Oceana’s Executive Director in Europe, Xavier Pastor, who sums up the problem:

“There is a serious contradiction between the speeches given by government officials and the facts. In all their public statements, seminars, conferences, etc. Government spokespeople talk about how essential it is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and avoid increased CO2 emissions to fight climate change. However, instead of conducting studies on the environmental impact of spill-free offshore wind farms to promote their implementation, the government just keeps on granting hydrocarbon prospecting licenses on Spain’s entire coast”.

What do you think of this mess?