REPSOL has overcome the main hurdle it faced to get the go-ahead to drill off the Costa del Sol since the Environmental Ministry has approved the environmental impact report.
Despite the opposition of local businesses, town halls, politicians, fishermen and environmentalists, the company is a step closer to going ahead with the ‘Siroco’ project to drill for gas off Mijas and Fuengirola.
The report, which has taken more than a year, concludes that the drilling will not affect local flora or fauna, nor the fishing and tourism sectors. The Environmental Ministry has specified that drilling will have to take place between February and April to avoid the months with most tourists, fishing season and migratory and reproductive periods of cetaceans and birds.
However, despite the green light from the Environmental Ministry, the Ministry of Industry now has to give the final authorization and decide on the third time extension which Repsol intends to request, as the research permits granted to Repsol will expire in August.
In any case, the authorization would only allow Repsol to search for gas, but not extract it. If this exploratory phase gave positive results which showed that the quality and quantity of the gas would make it worth the while investing in developing the site, then another administrative process which could take at least two years would begin.
For the time being, Repsol is going to study the resolution from the Ministry as there are many conditions to take into account. The company would also have to provide the central government, Junta de Andalucia and Provincial government with a contingency plan including a protocol in case of leakage, as well as an report to the Environmental Ministry regarding how debris and mud would be dealt with, and how to reduce acoustic contamination.