By Sara Wallace
A PLAN to drill for gas off the Costa del Sol could endanger the livelihoods of millions of Andalucians.
The drilling site proposed by Repsol-YPF is located just nine kilometers offshore from the top tourist spots of Mijas, Cabopino and Fuengirola.
Green group Ecologistas en Accion has slammed the scheme, which it claims would enganger Andalucia’s tourism industry.
Following the recent disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, activists are extremely concerned about the potential detrimental effects on the area’s wildlife and nature.
“It is completely incompatible with both tourism and environmental interests of the Costa del Sol,” said a spokesman.
Tourism is the main source of income for the Costa del Sol, bringing in over a billion euros from up to 10 million visitors each year.
The vast majority who come for beach holidays would go elsewhere if there was a serious leak or accident.
The green group has submitted various reports to the Environment Agency prior to the deadline of the public consultation period.
Repsol meanwhile insists that the gas extraction plans, which it hopes would see initial exploratory tests from January next year, will not affect the coastline.
It says the site would be minimally visible as it would utilise an underwater wellhead instead of a floating platform.
Gas will then be transported through a submarine conduit to a base on the coast.
The company says it chose three months of tests to happen from January because the area’s whales will have completed their annual migration routes by then.
The 16-square kilometer gas field was identified by a 2005 seismic survey.
A final decision on the viability of what is called the ‘Siroco exploration’ project will be made by the end of September.
It is expected to be speedily signed off after the Environment Ministry conducts a detailed environmental impact study.
Spain’s Industry Ministry has recently approved the plan.