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Part of the dune ecosystem of northern Fuerteventura. Photo © PMadeira
Or: 7000 admitted accidents and counting.

Repsol the Spanish oil company infamous for more than 7000 oil prospecting related accidents, not least of which in Nigeria and now off the coast of Brazil, has just signed the convening of a BP style deepwater prospecting contract with the Spanish Govt off the tourist islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, Canary Islands, both of which are designated UNESCO Biospheres.

Notable not least for their high economic dependency on year round tourism, both have high levels of marine and terrestrial protections under both Spanish and European laws (please don't laugh) which relate as much to the marine environments as well as the beautiful beaches (notably Fuerteventura) along the eastern seaboard, the designated prospecting sites.

The Gulf style deepwater prospecting in 1600mts of water within the Canary Current will extend down to 3,500mts in some 19 different areas along a seaboard of some 100kms (64miles) and as close as 12kms offshore from the tourist venues of Caleta Fustes and Gran Tarajal.

The potential was laid off for some years during the socialist Zapatero government, but now that the PP - Popular Party or Conservative (Aznarist) Rajoy administration has taken over the reins with over 5million unemployment and rising, it's up to the usual corruptive activities of money first, environment & islands nowhere!

The specter of another Gulf Oil incident comes rushing in like a thick black tsunami of possibility (probability) given the cavalier attitude of Repsol's admitted 7000 clangers. Both regional island governments have long rejected this plan but the perverse Minister of Tourism-Industry-Taxation (greedy little troll) Jose Manuel Soria actually a Canarian & VP of the Rivero Autonomous Govt brought the date forward of the signing of the convenio.

This, in order to outfox the large local population manifestations of both adjoining islands, against the prospecting, planned for the 24 of March 2012. A big black palm-hand symbolizes what could be the arrival of that which so damaged the Gulf coastlines - and the subsequent horror of a non correcting Corexit clean-up or sink-it!

In an emergency press conference given on Friday 16 March, the Cabildo Presidents of Fuerteventura & Lanzarote were joined by Pres. Paulino Rivero of the Canary Islands Autonomous Govt in the capitol of Fuerteventura, Puerto del Rosario to explain the political maneuvering by the Rajoy PP regime and Soria as President of the Canary Islands PP group: using his neat little wedge as VP of Riveros CC (Coalition Canaria) based government - remembering too, that Soria is Minister of Tourism, Industry & Taxation.

The tourism part seems in inverse proportion to the industry part which now admits a long term scurrilous Repsol into a long term potential environment fiasco which pretends to suck out 140,000 barrels per day and one wonders where it will all go! In the barrel, or on the beaches & coastline - so while tourism depends on a clean and vibrant environment, industry is about to dump on it. Talk about crapping on your own doorstep!

The propaganda states, in a high unemployment area of 29%, second only in the listings of Spanish zones of jobless severity, that it will provide 52,000 job emplacements - cute, since Repsol doesn't employ more than 40k world wide in all its ground sucking activities - and invest 9.900.000 euros and provide 35% of the take to the "canaries" tweet-tweet!

The propaganda also revealed the - Ooooh wait for it all you propaganda orgasmic readers - "the highest standards (gag) of environmental protection (barf) will be employed" and with zilch in place for quick reaction to potential (sorry, meant probable) oil spills which apparently is a norm for "Ripsoil".

The south of Fuerteventura has large beaches on a long coastline that is the backbone of the islands tourism especially to the German market and were the first holiday makers to enter upon those then glorious white-golden sand beaches that bore rarely a footprint on an island back in the 70s, that had about 5,000 inhabitants - I know, I was there!

The main comment of the press conference was why the speed of signing the convenio before the approved - and lawful - date wherein the islanders had right to determine that, which really had been determined - no oil - it was thus assumed that was the reason, to out-effect the public opinion. The issue now goes before the Superior Tribunal for long term litigation.

Put it another way...

Now in an effort to stick with the essentials; the European oil embargo against Iran goes into effect in July2012 - after the current contracts run dry so as to castigate those norty Iranians for their nuclear excesses and appease a certain wilfulness that has a limited hangout nearby.

The Iranians have consequently affirmed a new law "not to supply countries intending to operate oil embargoes against them" as a riposte for the political cavalier attitude of the Europeans and their ilk. All seems reasonable.

Spain being a recipient of Iranian oil has to be part of the "community spirit" of kicking-arse over Iranian nuclear activities. Spain, (a country I dearly love...have to mention that coz I'm also am a Real Madrid supporter...oh heck! life can be complicated. But I digress) as part of PIIGS is equally worried as Portugal, Greece, Ireland (UK included) about the imminent collapse of the European Govt as well as the euro and sees an opportunity to raid the autonomous islands of Spanish territory for the oil and salvation financially. This is a rush job - there is going to be problems.

Rajoy is up to his neck in unemployment and sees this as a solution to a pressing problem as well as some future financial security - thus get the boot in, right up to the canary neck and send in the worst operator (you can hum that to the tune of Smooth Operator) REPSOL - to do the DEEPWATER PROSPECTIONS JIVE- not dissimilar to the events in the Gulf of Mexico...if BP got it wrong you think Repsol are gonna do it better Juana?

All of this keeps oil prices up and the sinking European oil dependent economies afloat on their own spills - political embargos get the thumbs-up (politically of course) the Iranians can stop the oil, coz Spain now got a bucket-full coming out the Canaries (they'd have a barrel-full but there has to be mandatory spills) so the dwindling euro economies can hold out - more especially Spain and the incredibly seemingly sincere Rajoy can boast a decrease in unemployment and a source of oil independently from elsewhere. Strewth - great plan! Wished I had thought of it.
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A coastline of the south of Fuerteventura. Photo ©PMadeira

One can only surmise the first days of the end of a second Atlantis as the long arm of the drill bit starts to open holes that are unlikely to be filled, in the tectonic plates of a volcanic domain and the damages against the wide biodiversity of the Canary Islands which supports uniquely 29 different species of cetaceans not to mention its essential and sensitive marine flora & fauna. So what! It's only the natural world and man is king...duuuh.

As for tourism, well that will be decide by the bathers returning in instant black one piece head to toe, lycra looking costumes with permanent black tans. When the hotels close for lack of customers the lay-offs will rise to add to the 5million plus that the PP desperately wants to reduce if only because it's political - they don't give a damn about the jobless.

It's all 50/50, but those aren't good odds - and there is much that hasn't been said. Given the track record of modern day governments and their current drive to destroy the texture of society in general one cannot be accused of over-reaction. Just Google-up the Gulf Spill sites or the Prestige Spill off the Galician coast to see some sobering images.

Then watch the NGO's get on the band wagon with the funds they get through back door entities linked to the very perverse prospectors of oil & the like. Nothing like having endangered species and environments to pull at the purse strings of all and sundry...wait for the headlines about Polar Bears endangered in the Canary Islands...and glacial melt in Tenerife!!!!

We have an undersea volcano off the El Hierro coast that has done considerable damages and probably caused the introduction of large swarms of medusa luminescent (Pelagia noctiluca) jellyfish which are currently (pun intended) harassing the beaches of Fuerteventura. At least that is a biomass that can be disposed of and recycled - when the "pitch" hits the beaches that won't recycle - earth changes & designer beaches.

Pablo Madeira is a Marine Ecologist amongst other marine activities and is an expert of the Canary Islands. He can be contacted at ecosdive@gmail.com.