Spain are facing an environmental crisis in the form of natural gas drilling off the Costa del Sol which could result in pollution, detrimental effects to sea-life and an adverse impact on tourism, despite claims to the contrary by the Ministry of Industry.
The process of extracting natural gas is called ‘Hydraulic Fracturing’ or simply, ‘Fracking’ where a cable is used to drill deep underground aided by a lethal cocktail of chemicals which serve to lubricate, cool and protect the drill.
The effects of Fracking were documented brilliantly by Josh Fox in his self-made film, “Gasland” in which he uncovered the harmful effects to the environment and people who lived near to drilling sites.
Residents were able to light the water coming from their taps and many were taken ill after drinking heavily polluted water. The film concluded by pointing out that the cost of extracting the gas was higher than the profit made from selling it, in other words the gas extraction companies run at a loss but are subsidised by governments.
If Repsol’s request is given the go-ahead they will be given rights to natural gas exploration but not necessarily to extract the gas.
And it seems that officials are keen to press ahead with plans to disrupt the natural oceanic environment off the coast as indicated by the answer given in Parliament to the question posed by Miguel Angel Heredia, socialist member for Malaga, about prospecting for methane gas off the coast of Fuengirola and Malaga.
“Not only can we rule out any adverse effects on tourism, but in the case of a positive result the work has great potential to create wealth, complementing the region’s economic activity which in turn would benefit the tourism industry itself.”
Siroco, the codename given to Repsol’s natural gas project will likely commence in Spring 2013 provided it is given the final go-ahead.
The politicians involved are basing their claims on Spain’s need to provide more of its own power and rely less on imported fuel sources. Given the amount of renewable resources it would be more prudent of Repsol to invest in solar, hydro and wind power, all of which are abundant in Spain. The cost to the environment would be far less drastic and the renewable energy would provide more than enough power for domestic purposes.
As a country which talks up its love of environmental causes and protection, Spain is certainly heading towards the precipice of environmental disaster and Repsol’s Siroco could be the machine to push it into the abyss.
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