Oceana regrets the ruling of the Spanish Supreme Court in favour of oil drilling in the Canary Islands

The Repsol project impedes the declaration of a marine protected area for cetaceans and may potentially affect 25 protected areas.

Press Release Date: June 26, 2014

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana regrets the decision of the Supreme Court to approve the permits that have been granted to Repsol to prospect for hydrocarbons on the eastern coastline of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. This decision will help to destroy up to 25 marine areas and 82 protected species that were documented by Oceana during its expedition in this zone, as explained by the international marine organisation’s expert witness during the court case.

“It is a disgrace how the government is handing out exploitation permits that benefit just a few people, while putting the rest of Spain in danger of losing countless essential and extremely fragile habitats”, declared Ricardo Aguilar, the research director of Oceana in Europa, and an expert witness on deep sea ecosystems during the court case. “The Canary Island’s deep sea ecosystems are unique and they sustain species that are vital for the tourism and fisheries in the area. It is irresponsible to destroy these habitats in a few years to facilitate the extraction of a finite and highly polluting energy resource”.

The exploration permits were initially granted by the Ministry of Industry and this was strongly opposed by the regional Government of the Canary Islands and the town councils of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. These permits cover an area of 616.060 hectares – almost 2.5 times larger than the land surface of the two islands – which have not been sufficiently explored and where there may be corals that are up to 8,000 years old, associated with great depths and areas of gas emanations.  

Oceana, the international marine conservation organisation, points out that the Repsol project is jeopardising the conservation of protected areas such as the Isla Graciosa – Chinijo Archipelago marine reserve (the second largest marine protected area in Spain), Cagafrecho, la Isla de Lobos and the Bocayna Strait. It is also jeopardising the Canary Island’s biosphere reserves, as UNESCO could remove that designation if the project goes ahead.

The project is also impeding the declaration of a new marine protected area within the Natura 2000 Network (SCI East and South of the Lanzarote-Fuerteventura Marine Area). To the south of Fuerteventura there is an area with one of the largest number of beaked whales in the world, cetaceans that feed at depths greater than 600 metres.

Report: Marine areas in the Canary Islands affected by oil exploration

Representations by Oceana regarding exploratory drilling

Oceana has photos of the affected areas