Repsol CEO and Chairman, Antonio Brufau, described as “third world” the Canarian opposition to oil prospecting in the waters of the Archipelago. A position that was officially and formally rejected last Friday during the Cabildo de Gran Canaria plenary with abstentions from political groups Unidos and the PP (Partido Popular).
The motion presented by the government group considered what the president of that multinational oil and gas company said to be a “disqualification and a resentful offence“, in addition to describing him as “coarse and arrogant” of a “colonial mentality” having expressed himself with “despotic language that offends collective dignity”.
The initiative proposes to send the formal rejection agreed to various high profile partners of Repsol, including the presidents of Sacyr and Caixabank.
The petition was backed by a complaint from the César Manrique Foundation whose spokesmen have called Brufau’s claim “outrageous” a deserving of “public condemnation and an immediate apology” from the oil company president.
In an explanatory memorandum, the motion summarises the milestones of Repsol’s attempt to carry out oil prospecting in the waters of the Canary Islands, an initiative dating back to 2001 and initially requiring a special permit, which was appealed by institutions, associations and political parties before the Supreme Court, who annulled the concession.
Repsol’s attempt, the text continues, had been suspended for years as the world shuddered to observe the ecological catastrophe on the southeastern shores of the United States caused by a black tide that affected almost 1,000 kilometers of its coast in 2010 and which served to make society even more aware of the dangers that oil drilling poses to the land nearest.
However, since the arrival of the Popular Party in 2011 with an absolute majority and the subsequent appointment of José Manuel Soria as Energy Minister, the issue was once again considered as possible, and the Canarian-born minister signed a royal decree that validated, the once suspended permit from 2001, granting the oil company license to carry out oil prospecting and ignoring proposals ( not of congressional law) that called for its halting.
In the meantime, the European Parliament issued a directive; restricting laws allowing the extraction of oil in waters under its jurisdiction, limiting community rules for such licensing, and making the gas and oil companies responsible for environmental damages.
Soria’s decision was again brought before the Supreme Court, where it was argued that the environmental impact studies were insufficient and lacking in rigour, though this was dismissed by the judicial body and gave green light to the prospecting, which eventually resulted, in the right conditions for oil extraction in the area not being met.
The statements of Repsol’s president in recent weeks provoked both the Parliament of the Canary Islands and the Cabildo de Lanzarote to have declared him ‘persona non grata’ and demand apology.
Gran Canaria has expressed its condemnation of Brufau’s words but have not declared him ‘persona non grata‘, as there are apparently “legal limitations” according to the secretary of the Gran Canaria corporation.