The period announced by REPSOL for the prospecting in the Canary Islands is the most dangerous time of the year

Between June and September the danger of accidents and spills increases due to the weather.

Press Release Date: February 21, 2014

Location: Madrid


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Oceana has pointed out that the time of year chosen by Repsol for oil exploration in the Canary Islands is the most dangerous in terms of accidents, and is when a spill would spread most widely through the marine environment. Summer is the season when the trade winds lash the archipelago and its waters with the greatest force, so that not only do the risks and the number of accidents increase, but also the response to a spill is much more complicated.

Also, it is a key date for many of the marine species of the Canary Islands, since it is when much of the most important upwelling of nutrients occurs in the area, which brings together a wide variety and quantity of animals in its waters.

It is around this time of year when species as unusual as the rough-toothed dolphin and the Bryde’s whale approach the coasts of the Canary Islands. It is also a period of great importance for sharks and other elasmobranchs, including species in grave danger of extinction, such as the angel shark or the spiny butterfly ray. It coincides with the breeding season for commercially important species such as the pilchard and the amberjack, and with an important period for tuna and marlin fishing.

Both reports by the EU on upwelling and climate in the Macaronesian and African regions and those of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in the Canary Islands agree that the months chosen by Repsol are the least suitable.

According to Oceana, the oil company wanted to send a message to the people of the Canary Islands making it clear that “they will do what they want, when they want”, and for that reason they have used Minister José Manuel Soria as their spokesman, so that it was he who made the announcement public.

“Repsol has decided to punish the people of the Canary Islands for opposing their plans to search for oil in the archipelago,” said Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research for Oceana in Europe. “The report produced by the company recognises the danger of spills, and in spite of this they have neither presented a plan to combat pollution in case of an accident nor a bank guarantee to defray the cost of the damage that might occur.”

The minister has decided to give carte blanche to Repsol despite the fact that there has not yet even been a ruling by the Supreme Court. To make things even easier, he has ordered the Ministry of the Environment to halt the declaration of the conservation area around the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote that the Spanish Government had promised the European Commission that it would create.

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

Representations by Oceana regarding exploratory surveys

Oceana has photographs of the affected areas