Spain’s heavy reliance on imported energy and the current financial crisis has pushed them to seek ways of reducing their outgoings and for better or worse, Siroco, the name given to Repsol’s natural gas exploration venture, is seen as a way of doing just that.
Siroco, one of thirty drilling projects given the go ahead by Spanish authorities around the Bay of Biscay, Canary Islands and Mediterranean Sea, was given permission to start back in 2004 and will explore packets of biogenic gas at a depth of 1600 metres.
It is focused in an area of sea between Velez and Malaga, concentrated mainly at Punta de Calaburras which lies 9km south of Mijas. After a survey was carried out and completed in 2005 the scheme received a favourable environmental impact report in June 2011 and is now only waiting for final authorisation from Spain’s Ministry of Industry to begin drilling (possibly between February and April 2013).
Environmentalists are understandably in opposition to Siroco and questions have to be asked about the government’s decision to allow things to get this far. Spain has two renewable energy sources in abundance; solar and wind, both of which should be explored and used further to generate more energy.
The process of extracting natural gas is called Hydraulic Fracturing, or Fracking, and is a very destructive process which uses a highly toxic soup of chemicals, the environmental impact of which has been well documented by ecologists, environmentalists and film-makers.
Companies like Haliburton have been ruining natural water supplies in their drive to deliver natural gas; a job which is actually not profitable without heavy government subsidies. Furthermore, the claim that natural gas is environmentally friendly is wide of the mark because the process to extract is so damaging and non-degradable.
Campaigners have only a few months to convince the government that Siroco should be scrapped and investment placed in alternatives but if they fail and it goes ahead, Spain could be facing an environmental and financial disaster, especially if the waters of the Costa del Sol become polluted as a result of Fracking leading to a sharp drop in tourism.
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