The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment has approved the exploratory drilling operations to be undertaken by Repsol in the Canary Islands. The permission does not contemplate any extraction of oil and is heavily conditioned by the application of preventative measures to protect the environment.
If Repsol wished to go on to extract oil from the area they would have to present another project for approval by the government. This new application would have to undergo a more stringent environmental impact study.
The autonomous government of the Canary Islands is not happy about the situation and has commented that the decision opens the doors to a threat of an oil spill in the area.
The exploration will be undertaken by a specially equipped boat, around 60 kilometres off the coast, and will collect rock and fluid samples in order to detect the presence of hydrocarbons in the area.
In order to guarantee ‘maximum transparency’ there will be a web page, to be updated in real time, available to the public to inform them of what is happening. The page will be managed by Repsol.
The government of the Canary Islands has been opposed to this operation since it was first suggested and considers that the exploratory operations threaten the natural heritage of the islands as well as the tourist industry.
They have commented that the central government is “insulting their intelligence” by claiming that the only thing approved is the exploration.