Earlier this summer, a ruling by a Loulé court ordered the consortium to immediately cease work as drilling was scheduled to start this month.
The decision, announced by Galp’s chief executive at the start of this week, was celebrated by Algarve mayors and anti-oil activists, though was also viewed with caution until officially confirmed by the government.
On Monday, GALP CEO Carlos Gomes da Silva announced the decision during a conference call with analysts, as broken by business newspaper Jornal de Negócios.
The Galp chief reportedly told analysts that “with regards to Portugal, we have made the decision to abandon the holding”.
In comments to newspaper Sul Informação, Jorge Botelho, president of the AMAL Algarve Intermunicipal Community, said it is “good news that justifies all those who have always argued that the Algarve should be a hydrocarbon-free region”.
He recalled how “a few years ago, when the process began”, the Algarve’s councils banded together with associations and civilians in a bid to stop the process.
“This joint effort reached to the courts and now Galp has decided that the concession should be abandoned”, he reasoned.
However, the AMAL president stressed “we are basing this on the assumption that the news is true” and said that, besides what was published by the media, there had been no official substantiation.
“We await confirmation although nothing leads me to believe that the information is not true”, he reiterated.
Aljezur mayor José Gonçalves also told Sul Informação that the withdrawal of Galp “is good news for the county, but also for the whole Algarve”.
“It will restore normality and tranquillity in the region, which the prospect of oil exploration took away.
“I am satisfied and happy”, he added.
The Aljezur mayor says he expects the reported withdrawal to be a “definitive, forever” move.
He wants the law regulating the activity to also be changed, “so that the threat will not be repeated in the future”.
However, the Algarve Free of Petroleum Platform (PALP) said early on that it was “cautious” of the news of the consortium’s withdrawal.
Spokesperson Ana Matias said that PALP had sought official confirmation, but regardless, the news was one of “the happiest moments since the founding of the PALP in 2015.
“We believe that our efforts lent some weight here, since the consortium feels that the conditions for continuing are not met and this is also due to the precautionary measure in force”.
In August, the government confirmed it had appealed against a court ruling that gave rise to an injunction suspending the prospecting of oil off Aljezur in the Algarve.
Loulé’s Administrative Court had ruled in favour of the Algarve Fossil Fuel Free platform’s (PALP) injunction and suspended the license (TUPEM permit) for the ENI / GALP consortium to drill for oil off Aljezur.
Later, the Directorate-General for Natural Resources, Security and Maritime Services (DGRM) issued a statement saying that it had appealed the decision.
Following the announcement of the court’s acceptance of the injunction, the ENI / GALP consortium told Lusa News Agency that it “always complied scrupulously with the legislation and the authorities’ determinations” with regard to the permit for oil prospecting off Aljezur and was “evaluating this decision and its options”.