Repsol to start drilling off Canary Islands

Despite huge protests from locals and local authorities, the Spanish government have brought Spanish oil giant Repsol’s 12 year quest to open exploratory oil wells off the Canary Islands coast, to an end.

Should the drilling be successful, Repsol estimate they will spend upwards of 7.5 billion euros exploring for oil 60 kilometres offshore in waters near the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

Island authorities have been fighting the proposals with great determination, undermined with fears of worst case scenarios. They feel that the potential environmental impact of any accidents would be disastrous for the archipelago noted for its high ecological value and great reliance on eco-tourism. The Islands were declared a Special Maritime Protection Zone by the UN’s International Maritime Organisation in 2005. Six of the seven islands are biosphere reserves.

Geologists estimated that the area between the Canaries and West Africa could yield enough oil to help Spain save around 10 percent on its energy bill.

Opposition has been widespread throughout the islands, with politicians, NGOs, environmentalists, and civic associations mostly finding accord and rejecting the proposals. Initial objections centred around Repsol’s lack of contingency plans in the event of an accident and the likely environmental impact. Repsol claims to have completed a plan, and have insisted that any accident is “almost impossible.”Opponents point out between 2006 and 2010 Repsol were responsible for nearly 7,000 incidents worldwide involving not just exploration and drilling, but also transportation of crude oil.

Author badge placeholder
Written by

Euro Weekly News Media

Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page