Environmentalists on the Canary Islands can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Repsol has announced that it will halt its hydrocarbon exploration programme in Canary Island waters. The energy giant had been surveying the region for the past two months in search of oil and gas reserves.
Repsol announced on Friday that the although its exploratory survey confirmed the existence of gas, the reserves were too small and of poor quality that the company has ruled out future extraction. Repsol is sending its drilling vessel back to Angola to continue with its exploration programme there.
Repsol added that the work in the Canary Islands had been carried out with the highest safety and environmental protection standards.
The Spanish government had hoped that drilling in the Canary Islands could have helped the country reduce its energy dependence and create jobs. According to AFP, deputy head of the industry ministry, Enrique Hernandez Bento, called the move “bad news for the Canaries and for Spain”.
But regional president of the islands, Paulino Rivero, celebrated Repsol’s withdrawal and said: “The failure of Repsol is a success for the whole Canaries and a guarantee that we can live in peace and quiet”. Local authorities had campaigned against the plan, fearing that oil and gas exploration would have harmed wildlife and the islands’ tourist industry.