Oceana is opposing new oil wells in the Spanish Mediterranean, specifically those on the coasts of Tarragona and Castellon, as a new spill could cause serious damage to the area’s valuable marine and coastal ecosystems. The international marine conservation organisation expressed its opinion in its comments concerning the Environmental Impact Study carried out prior to the opening of the Montanazo and Lubina oil wells, where initial prospecting already led to oil slicks.
The oceanographic campaign carried out during the evaluation of impacts lasted only two days, despite the fact that this area harbours species of commercial interest like anchovies, sardines, seabass, red prawns, hake and sole, as well as others of ecological interest: sea turtles and cetaceans (common fin whales, striped and bottlenose dolphins, common and grey pilot whales, etc.). According to satellite images taken by the European Maritime Agency, failures in the safety system led to the spilling of 115 tons of crude between May 14 and 15 of 2009, as well as 15 tons of other contaminating substances like oil.
Oceana highlights the fact that the spills occurred in especially sensitive areas harbouring rich biodiversity due to its proximity to various protected sites, and valuable fishing and tourist areas. These include three natural parks (Delta del Ebro, Islas Columbretes and Sierra de Irta), Masia Blanca Marine Reserve, various important bird areas (IBA) and sites proposed for inclusion in the Natura 2000 Network (Delta del Ebro/Columbretes, Cap San Creus/southern Coast of Tarragona and Costes del Tarragonés).
As such, Oceana believes new drillings are not necessary off Spanish coasts or any other part of the world, not only because of the dangerous reliance on a limited resource, but also because of the serious impact oil spills have on the environment and its ecosystems. There are currently thousands of oil rigs working in unreliable conditions around the world and proof of this is BP's huge spill in Deep Water Horizon, one of the worst ecological catastrophes in history.
“The current environmental and economic catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico should be a deterrent for new marine oil drillings. In this context, it is particularly ridiculous to plan the opening of new wells in areas of ecological importance like the coasts of Tarragona and Castellon,” declared Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. “The health of marine ecosystems and the fight against climate change require a definitive change from the reliance on oil to a fostering of renewable energies.”
The alterations produced by human interference in the climate system make policies focused on increased reliance on highly contaminating energies, like fossil fuels, completely unsustainable. As such, Oceana calls for a change of the productive, energetic and consumption models focused on the definitive decarbonization of our economy.