We say NO to Oil and Gas Exploration and Extraction on Unspoiled Land and Sea in Greece

We say NO to Oil and Gas Exploration and Extraction

on Unspoiled Land and Sea in Greece

New destructive and dangerous choices that pose a serious threat to the future of our country and our society are implemented by the Greek government acting in favor of international and domestic corporate interests. “Big Oil” corporations that are guilty of causing horrific environmental disasters around the world and who have been exploiting the Middle East and Africa for many decades, instigating wars and bloodshed for the control of oil reserves, are now establishing themselves in Greece and the wider area of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Huge areas of the strikingly beautiful regions of Epirus, Western Greece and the sea around the Ionian Islands and Crete, have been conceded to local and international oil and gas companies for exploration. At the same time, the first attempts for oil extraction off the coast of the neighboring country of Cyprus, have already caused escalation of tensions between Greece and Turkey. 

Oil and Gas do not bring happiness and prosperity.

International surveys and statistics are relentless: countries and regions that have based their economy on the extraction of fossil fuels, “enjoy” the lowest indicators for democracy, health, environmental quality, education and the highest in corruption, unemployment, poverty, inequality, violence and conflict. As has been proven in practice, many oil and gas extracting areas - shortly after their first development phase - face economic downturns, diseases related to environmental degradation, job losses and a massive wave of outward migration. A very characteristic recent example is the Basilicata region in neighboring Italy.

Profits go to corporations. Damages go to society.

They are promising uncertain financial benefits to the Greek State, from rents and taxes, dependent on the corporate profits that will be declared. What is certain is that such benefits will not make up for the public resources that are to be spent on extraction related infrastructure, on -even partly- coping with the impact on the health of the local people, on the even greater spending for arms and munitions (due to international tensions related with oil extraction), as well as with the devastating effects that oil extraction will have on all other fields of the local economies, on tourism and agriculture, no less.

Toxic gas and waste, compromising of drinking water and aquifers, river and sea pollution, deforestation, landslides, increased seismicity, destruction of agricultural land, displacement of traditional activities (livestock rearing, beekeeping etc.), degradation of public health, all these will be irreversible effects even in the -hypothetical- case of efficient operation of the extraction projects. In the case of an accident, the impact on the environment, on tourism, on agricultural production and fishing will be unimaginable. And, we, local societies and the people will pay the dear price of such effects. Not Total, Repsol, Edison, Exxon Mobil or local oil refinery magnate, Latsis. The recent (past September) oil spill in the Saronic Gulf (near Athens), during which the Greek state was proven unable to effectively check the spread of just a few tons of oil, is an ominous reminder of the extent of disaster that would threaten a vast part of Greece if these plans for oil and gas extraction are not stopped.

Not in Epirus and not anywhere else

In the north western Greek region of Epirus exploratory drilling has commenced. This has triggered a wave of concern, reaction and resistance within the local society. Epirus is a region rich in biodiversity and enjoys a distinctive mountainous relief, pristine rivers and forests, traditional settlements and unique landscapes, boasting of being one of the most environmentally unspoiled regions in ​​the EU. This region has been granted to “Big Oil” corporations who are intending to turn it into a wasteland of thousands of rigs, drilling at very large depths. New roads are opened up all over the mountains and forests and through people’s farms and properties -without the required permission, so that that exploration drilling will be made possible just everywhere.

In other Greek regions, notably Western Greece, the Ionian Islands and Crete, where oil and gas exploration and extraction is to ensue, local societies are also very concerned and are beginning to react against the violent invasion of “Big Oil” interests on their land and Sea.

The local people are not alone! They enjoy the solidarity of all of us who realize that oil and gas extraction is a strategic choice that will negatively affect Greece's overall position and will perpetuate its compliance to a productive model that will result in a cataclysmic disruption of the harmonious relationship between man and nature.

There is another way, the socially and environmentally sustainable way

A strategic plan on energy resources, that would be based on energy consumption efficiency and saving and the use of sustainable energy resources on the right scale, would be a worthy goal that will improve environmental conditions, create multiple sustainable jobs, reduce energy costs and tackle the energy poverty that threatens an increasing part of our society. Provided, that this objective will be part of a more comprehensive effort to substantially contest a development model based on fossil fuel extraction.

Join us in our fight! We need as much international solidarity as we can get!

Let us not let allow yet another part of this Planet become a wasteland for oil and gas extraction. Let us not allow the whole Eastern Mediterranean region to become a hotbed of armed conflict for the control of energy resources and roads.

This Planet’s wealth is ON the ground, not bellow it.

April 2018

Athens Initiative Against Hydrocarbon Extraction