The fearless battle of an entire region to protect our land, our beaches, our health, our traditions, our communities, our future. One by one, we have empowered the common man using the irresistible weapons of knowledge. To the oil companies that intend to destroy us, ENI, Petroceltic, MOG, Edison, Shell: let it be crystal clear.

You are not welcome here.

We will fight to the bitter end.

We shall defeat you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

MOG is lying to you!

Dear CIBC,

I came across your ad for the sale of Ombrina Mare by MOG. In your ad you FAIL to mention that Ombrina Mare has been declined environmental clearance from the Italian government on October 7th as reported by the Italian media.

I think this information should be disclosed to your investors, and to potential buyers.

This information is all over the Italian news and it is unethical for you not to disclose it.

Ombrina Mare was not approved and will not be developed under current legislation, since it sits well within the 5 mile no-drill zone designated by the Italian ministry of the environment.


Maria R D'Orsogna

Newspaper reports 1

Newspaper reports 2

Newspaper reports 3

Newspaper reports 4

Newspaper reports 5

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ombrina Mare - RIP

Finally, after MOG declaring that it is close to being broke, another piece of great news.

Ombrina Mare has failed to get clearance from the Committee on Environmental Impact Reviews.

This means the drilling of Ombrina Mare has been officially denied by Italian authorities.

I never thought this would happen, given the level of corruption Italy is notorious for. But we hammered them and protested and wrote and marched as if there was no tomorrow, so that they HAD to stop this project. I am so proud of this victory. In principle, it was Ms. Prestigiacomo's ban that stopped Ombrina. I know it was because of opposition from us the people. Had we been complacent, the project would have gone forward. So kudos to all of us activists.

We will keep closely monitoring the situation, but for now, condolences to Mr. Sergio Morandi, to Mr. Micheal Bonte-Friedheim and to all of MOG's investors.

I had warned you that this was a loosing business investment.

Elsa and Petroceltic, you are next.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MOG is almost broke!

The news we have all been waiting for is finally here. Mediterranean Oil and Gas is counting its pennies!

The Abruzzo people recall the CEO Sergio Morandi going on TV in April 2010 telling us that they were going to start drilling in June. Instead, the hundreds of letters of opposition to the Ministry, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, our protests and Ms. Prestigiacomo's ban on offshore drilling have stopped all of Morandi's grandiose dreams of turning a small oil company into a medium sized one, as MOG boasts on their internal documents and website.

On Spetember 30 2010 indeed MOG announced that it may

seek a sale of assets or the company if funding dries up in the wake of Italy's ban on near-shore drilling.

This is nice talk to tell their investors they are bankrupt and need to sell. This is also nice talk to say the people won, because the ban was imposed not only in response to the oil spill, but also because of so many protests, marches, letters, and communities rising in Abruzzo and Italy against offshore drilling so close to coast.

MOG lost about 5 million euros in six months, compared to 2.5 million in all of 2009.
Their revenue is halved. They claim their reserves from Ombrina Mare are double what they previously estimated but this is a moot point. Why?



Of course the chairman Michael Bonte-Friedheim is trying to gloss over the truth: he says that

the Italian decree in June banning exploration and production within five miles of the coast had resulted in uncertainty around development of the Ombrina Mare oil and gas field, the group's principal asset.

Sirs, it is not "uncertain", it is ILLEGAL. Do you understand what this means? You can't do it without breaking the law.

The press reports that MOG is experiencing a material adverse effect on its ability to access further funding. Of course, who would want to put their money into an outlawed operation that is also hated by virtually all local residents?

Who would be so foolish Mr. Morandi, Mr Bonte-Friedheim?

Come on, you certainly don't think that people are that stupid! I bet that you yourselves would not invest in such a loosing endeavor!

Count your losses and leave. We don't want you here. Thank you very much - now just disappear.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The ban is official

An FPSO unit similiar to the one oilmen want to build along the Abruzzo coast.
Go drill Ireland!

Dear Mr. Brian O'Cathain of Petroceltic,
Dear Mr. Sergio Morandi of Mediterranean Oil and Gas,
and FYI to Mr. Craig Clark of Forest Oil Corporation

The ban is official!

Starting from today it is illegal in Italy to drill any of your unwanted oil rigs within 5 miles from shore anywhere along the coast, and within 12 miles close to Natural marine reserves.


Today, August 26th 2010, the law presented by the Minister for the Environment, Stefania Prestigiacomo, comes into effect. The law was proposed after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and because of huge negative popular sentiment against offshore drilling all over the country. Our efforts to stop you and save Abruzzo have played no small part in this effort. The battle is not over and we will keep hounding you until you go back where you came from and where you belong. We will not let you play games with us.

Your ill-conceived plans of drilling us at 2 or 3 miles from shore are history.

Your plans of placing a fire-spitting processing unit - a permanent ship meant to desulfurize sour crude oil, complete of incineration unit that alone would have spewed 800 tons of petroleum waste a day - are history.

Just gracefully give it up and leave us alone.
We don't want you here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bomba vs. The Forest Oil Corporation

I went to give one of my 'Don't drill Abruzzo' talks the other day in Bomba - population 920 in the wintertime and about 2000 in the summer.

I am so proud of Abruzzo, I am so pround of Bomba. The Forest Oil Corporation of Denver thought that we were just a bunch of ignorant farmers. They thought that we would not fight
their plans to turn us into an oil and gas field. They thought that the promise of puny gas discounts was going to appease us, the people.

They were wrong. They were dead wrong.

I met the most excellent people in Bomba - biologists, geologists and chemists who may live far from Bomba, but who got together in November 2009 and dubunked the entire environmental statement report submitted by the Forest Oil Corporation, headed by Mr. Craig Clark. I also sent in my own review. About 200 people sent letters of opposition to the offices who are supposed to evaluate and approve or reject this plan. We all said no.

What the Forest Oil Corporation wants to do is crazy. There is a fragile dam in Bomba that was built in the 1950s on land that is so geologically unstable, it could not be made in cement. They had to use dirt sloped at a 45 degree angle. There are mudslides all the time, the land is highly seismic. ENI gave up drilling because of subsidence dangers and fears.

It is the craziest place to drill for natural gas.

The Forest Oil Corporation of Denver not only wants to drill several wells about 500 feet from town, they also want to build a refinery. The gas they will extract is sour, full of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas that smells of rotten eggs and that at high enough dosages is lethal. The refinery is meant to separate natural gas, mostly methane, from the rest, including H2S.

The rest will go into people's home.

The Forest Oil corporation themselves wrote in their environmental statement that they will exceed legal limits for pollutants. The Forest Oil corporation themselves wrote that winds are such that emissions from the refinery they intend to build will hit the center of town. Everyday for the next 12 years at least. People know this already, because about one year ago the Forest Oil Corporation of Denver was testing their wells and lit an enormous flame that released rotten odor gas that permeated town for three days. People also heard a loud noise and slight tremors.

The Forest Oil Corporation already built a large toxic waste pit, to be filled with all their drilling muds and garbage that comes from underground.


Mr. Craig Clerk of the Forest Oil Corporation, Mr. Brian O'Cathain of Petroceltic, Mr. Sergio Morandi of Medoil and Gas.

Once more.
The entire region of Abruzzo will not let you turn this place into an oil field.
We don't want you here.
Please leave us alone.
If you really must drill, go drill your own communities.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daily Finance

Today our story is featured on the Daily Finance.

To readers of the Daily Finance, my Italian blog is here. This is how I have been communicating with Italians, on a day to day basis. Most of this battle has been conducted by educating the people about what drilling really means. On occasions I travel to Italy to give talks and try to answer all possible questions. I have been hopping from town to town and had the most heartwarming experiences, from people who were told 'it is just a little stick in the sea', or 'it is not a refinery, just an olive oil processing center'. I have also lobbied hard with the Catholic church to take a stand, with local polticians, with all and any who would listen. So far no oil project has been completed in Abruzzo, and I will not stop until the end.

I have been doing this for the past three years, from my Santa Monica home. The fact that Abruzzo is a community of farmers and fishermen does not mean Big Oil can come and do as they please.
If I can do it from a half a world away, anyone can.

Thanks to Lauren for picking up this story.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

To PCI investors

"As I understand it, Petroceltic were assured by the Italian Ministry of energy that there were no problems with the issue of permits prior to Petroceltic entering into contractual obligations with others."

NOT TRUE. The Ministry does not assure anything. You think this is a private affair between Petroceltic and the Ministry? The law says that there are 60 days in which people can express their opinions. Well, we the people, including the Catholic church, winemakers, tourism operators, etc etc, we all expressed our opposition. The Ministry cannot ignore us, it is the law.

Who will compensate those companies affected?

When you drill, invest and play dice, there is something called risk. Simply, this was and will be a bad investment for Petroceltic. No one compensates you when you gamble and lose.

"The only concrete news regarding Italy is that they have made a request. To my logic, if a request is made the respondent has the option to say no. And until we know otherwise that might well be the case. Agreed there are mitigating circumstances that were unforeseen when the inital agreement was made."

Yes they made a request, and the people of Abruzzo came back with protests, letters to the Ministry, and marches. There never was an initial agreement. Petroceltic NEVER had permission to drill. They thought it would be easy and that their permits would be rubber stamped, but they left out the most important ingredient: us the people.

All those dates they give you, October 31st, July 1st is just blabber. They have no clue, because we the people don't want their rigs. It has been going on for months.
No is no is no. Another rally will occur on July 25th to protest Petroceltic and MOG.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Abruzzo against Petroceltic and Mediterranean Oil and Gas

Mr. Sergio Morandi and Mr. Brian O' Cathain, those gentlemen at Petroceltic and at Mediterranean Oil and Gas keep writing corporate-speak press releases about how nice they are to the people of Abruzzo and how they will drill us in an 'environmental' way. They even discuss their plans on how to bypass the new law passed by the Minister for the Environment, Stefania Prestigiacomo, to stop drilling within 12 miles of natural reserves and within 5 miles everywhere else.

From Dublin and London, they even use the word 'eco-drilling'; as if such a thing existed. Well, we are not going to let them insult our intelligence, nor drill our beaches. Here are a few videos of one of many marches and protests over the past few months to say NO to Petroceltic, MOG, Orca, Northern Petroleum, and to the Forest Oil Corporation. These are from May 30, 2010, in the town of Lanciano.

All major politicians have said NO to this project, including the president of the province and the coastal mayors of Abruzzo. Even the bishop said it is immoral to drill our waters!

We have been fighting big oil for the past 3 years. ENI - the seventh largest oil company in the world - packed up and left. Sirs, we are not going to let you destroy us.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bye Bye Ombrina Mare! Bye Bye Elsa!

Ha Ha Ha. Petroceltic just released this press release. They say the oil is 34 API and that they were supposed to start drilling in Q4 2010. What a joke. All over Abruzzo the API index is about 11/12. Just go look up what RospoMare has, and what ENI found on the proposed Miglianico oil field.
Heavy sour. So much so they needed a desulfurization plant.

Mr. O'Cathain, CEO of Petroceltic, DOES NOT EVEN KNOW HOW TO SPELL ABRUZZO RIGHT. Sir, shame on you. There has been no partnership whatsoever and to this day NOBODY wants you here.

Good news for Abruzzo, good news for Italians. Not so good news for oilmen and their investors.

Due to pressure from citizen groups, and due to the disaster that BP has made out of the gulf of Mexico, yesterday June 30 2010, the Italian minister for the environment, Stefania Prestigiacomo, announced that all drilling permits will be suspended sine die and retroactively for all drilling plans within 5 miles from the coast, about 9.2 km. In the case of natural reserves, the limit is extended to 12 miles, about 22 km.

This means that both Elsa and Ombrina Mare, as proposed by Petroceltic and Mediterranean Oil and Gas ARE OUT, since they are well within 9km from shore. Both are at about 5km or 6km from the coast. Both are right in front of the Parco Nazionale della costa dei Trabocchi.

We will keep monitoring and following the situation, since the news just came out yesterday.

But for now: Dear Petroceltic, Dear MOG: take your rigs, your FSPO, your dreams of becoming big players by exploiting the people of Abruzzo, take your oil plans and go hide yourselves!

It is sad that the gulf of Mexico had to turn into the mess it is, for our minister to come to this decision, but it is better than nothing.

Have a nice summer Mr. Sergio Morandi, have a nice summer Mr. Brian O'Cathain.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The lies of Petroceltic regarding Elsa

Petroceltic International, a Dublin based company who is bulling its way around Italian lawmakers, is now trying to play nice and pass the message that their drilling plans are safe.

Hmmh. Reminds me of their BP friends. They even have a pretty "local community" website, where they fall short of telling us that they are the saviors of humanity. Of course, they are just oilmen who want to get their way, regardless of what us locals have got to say. Shame on them and all their friends - Mediterranean Oil and Gas, Forest Oil Corporation, Cygam Gas, Orca Exploration Group, Puma, Northern Petroleum and all the other oil companies that want to come drill Abruzzo, and Italy. This is not the place to search for oil.

I am an independent physicist, who reviewed Petroceltic's environmental statement on behalf of the Province of Chieti, and sent it to the Ministry of the Environment. It was crap. There was no risk assessment, no emergency plan, no simulations of pollutants in the water, in the air. They will not even tell us what garbage they will pollute our waters with. They repeatedly assured the Ministry (not the people!) that their drilling will have little to none environmental impacts.

We don't believe a single word they say, and remind Petroceltic that to this day NO ONE
in Abruzzo wants them, their oil rigs, their tankers, their lies.

Petroceltic is not welcome in Abruzzo. And this is not just my feeling but that of the Catholic Church, the Union of Winemakers, of Tourism operators, the Union of Merchants, the Province of Chieti, all municipalities along the Abruzzo coast, fishermen, professors, sports and cultural associations. To this day in Abruzzo NO ONE supports offshore drilling.


In their fancy Q&A website they say:

Q: How can local communities be sure a disaster like the one in the Gulf of Mexico, does not happen off the coast of Abruzzo?

Petroceltic: There are important differences between the circumstances in relation to deep water oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and the planned drilling operations near Abruzzo on the Adriatic Coast. The Elsa Field contains low pressure oil which is not capable of flowing naturally. A pump is required to bring oil to the surface. In contrast the deep water fields in the Gulf of Mexico are high pressure, meaning oil will naturally flow to the surface if left unchecked.

Furthermore, these wells in the Gulf of Mexico are at a depth of over 1.5 km from the surface. This requires a floating rig which means that the Blow Out Preventor (BOP) is located on the seabed, so containment of any problem has to be done remotely and is therefore much harder. In contrast, the rig for the Elsa 2 well would stand on the seabed in just 33 m of water. With this configuration the BOP is on the rig with a simpler control system which is accessible for repair or maintenance at all times.

Maria: Dear Sirs: in the Gulf of Mexico everyone said that drilling was safe, and that nothing bad was ever going to happen. The truth is that ONE CAN NEVER BE SURE about drilling, and that it is best to avoid such operations in such close proximity to shore. What if things went wrong even for a shorter period of time than in the gulf? Our way of life will be destroyed. We gain nothing with your wells and just increase the risk of ruining our beaches. Have you ever heard of the Santa Barbara oil spill? Of the Montara oil spill? Of the piattaforma Paguro? Of Trecate? Do you know that here in SoCal we have had no new offshore drilling for the past 40 years? There surely must be a reason. Funny, your oil does not float? What it defies the laws of physics? Petroceltic, you lost 6 million pounds in 2009. You won't have the resources to even begin a minor scale clean up, let alone a devastating one!

Q: I understand that Petroceltic is going to be drilling for oil in the Adriatic Sea. Is this confirmed?

Petroceltic: It is subject to a permit being granted by the Ministry of the Environment. The permit process requires a full assessment of potential impacts on the environment. A decision on this will be made in Q2 2010. This will allow Petroceltic to undertake exploration but not production.

Maria: Yes, and about 100 letters of opposition were sent to the Ministry of the Enviroment. Concerns were expressed by all political parties, the Catholic Church and dozens of citizens and activist groups. Never before has the Ministry been inundated with so many letters and statements of opposition. We simply do not want you here. Your plan also called for a permit to drill permanently, in case it was approved. Did you forget the words you yourselves wrote in your own environmental statements?

Q: If the process is approved when will drilling start?


An exploration well will be drilled in early autumn 2010, subject to permit approval from the Ministry of the Environment. This drilling phase will last approximately four months.

Maria: There is something called the Aarhus treaty, according to which local populations have the right to voice their concerns, and according to which their opinion is binding. If necessary, we will take this to the European courts. Your arrogance is disturbing, sirs, given you are an Irish company that knows nothing of Abruzzo.

Q: How will the drilling occur? Is there an oil rig?

Petroceltic: Yes there will be an oil rig (known as a drilling rig) on site for approximately four months. It will be located seven kilometers from the coast and will be visible as a small object on the horizon.

Maria: Oh really. And after that? Your plan is to drill us for at least 20 years. We don't want that. It will not be a small object, sirs. You obviously don't know anything about the local geography. On clear days you can even see the Tremiti islands, 80km away. The rig will be clearly visible, as will all the oil tankers and other on shore logistics operations you will need.

Q: Will this rig be visible from the beach?


It is seven kilometres from the shore – so it will be visible as a small object on the horizon.

Maria: That is your story , sirs. I know every nook and cranny of those beaches, and I tell you, your rigs and that of the others, including Mediterranean Oil and Gas, will be ahuge eyesore to us, not to mention all the junk they will pollute our waters with.

Q: There has been a lot of local opposition to this project. Will this be damaging to the environment?

Petroceltic: We have carried out a full environmental impact assessment and any effects will be very small. We will be using the Eco-Drilling Approach to minimize the impact of operations on the natural environment. This includes ensuring that no waste from the drilling process (such as rock cuttings) will be released in the sea and that robust systems are in place to prevent the accidental release of any oil

Maria: As said above your environmental report was crap. It was just talk, and not conducted at all in a scientific manner. Eco-drilling? Gimme a break. There is no such thing!!!! We all know that not even BP writes serious environmental impact statements, how can we trust you, a minor, penniless company? You did not even know that there are TWO fishing sanctuaries paid for by the European taxpayer within your lease!!! The whole world knows that ALL oil operations involve waste being thrown in the water. Even the Norwegian government acknowledges as much, on their official websites.

Q: What are you doing to alleviate local concerns?

Petroceltic: We have created this website to be transparent about our plans and to answer any questions that people have. We will also be meeting with interested parties to talk them through the project.

Maria: A little too late. Sirs, the time for websites is way past. To alleviate local concerns, all you really have to do is pack up and leave. What part of WE DON'T WANT YOU HERE don't you understand? And exactly what "interested parties" are you referring to? No mayor, no business wants you. Capisc?

Q: What is the risk of an oil spill?

Petroceltic: The risk of an oil spill is negligible as there are control systems in place to stop this happening. Furthermore, the oil well is low pressure – meaning oil will only come to the surface if pumped.

Maria: Yes, that is what BP - your buddies from the UK - told us in the gulf as well. We are smarter than that, thank you very much.

Q: If there is an earthquake what will happen to the rig and the oil?

Petroceltic: The rig is designed to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5. If there was an earthquake all operations would be shut down according to well practiced emergency procedures.

Maria: Oh really. There was no mention of this in your environmental statement. And what if it is a magnitude 6 earthquake? And what if your emergency procedures failed? Do you know that in Basel the head of a drilling company is facing jail charges for causing earthquakes after drilling a rig in town for geothermal purposes?

Q: Can the drilling process cause an earthquake?

Petroceltic: Drilling does not cause earthquakes.

Maria: Ever heard of induced seismicity? Ever heard of Basel? Ever heard of Cleburne? Ever heard of Gasli? Abruzzo is already a highly seismic area, we don't need more risks than what God already gave us, thank you.

Q: Is there definitely quality oil in this area?

Petroceltic: Petroceltic believes that there may be commercially viable oil at Elsa 2. This cannot be confirmed until the analysis from the exploration phase is complete.

Maria: The oil Abruzzo holds is junk. It ranks very low on the API scale. Vasto has 11 API, Miglianico has 12 API. Elsa will not be much different. The lowest you can get on the API scale is 8 (= the Tar sands of Canada). Texas has 40. So, our oil is very poor quality, it is heavy sour oil. The best you can get is light sweet crude. Abruzzo oil is the bottom of the barrel, as ENI officials told me in a public debate. They never had the courage to debate us again.

Q: What impact will this have on tourism?

Petroceltic: We don't believe it will have any effect on tourism. The oil rig will be barely visible from the shore – so tourists may not even notice it. If we get the permit then activity will start in the autumn – outside the peak tourism period.

Maria: That is your misguided belief sir. As someone who knows the area, much more than you do, I tell you: it will be devastating. What does it mean that you will start drilling in the fall? What happens NEXT year? This oil rig has the potential to stay for 20 years. I hope you realize the absurdity of what you are saying. Have you ever heard of Texas as a prime beach destination?

Q: How much oil are you expecting to find?

Petroceltic: Elsa 2 is anticipated to have up to 100 million barrels of recoverable oil. The decision to go into production depends on the actual size of the reserves and the quality of the oil found.

Maria: This is not our problem. Abruzzo already produces more energy than what we need. As Irish people you will process and sell this oil on the free market. We are not here to help your business, thank you very much. We will not sit idly while you laugh your way to the bank.

Q: What financial benefit will there be to the local community?

Petroceltic: If the exploration phase goes ahead it will provide a financial boost to the region. We estimate that approximately half of the $38m costs of drilling the Elsa 2 will be spent on service companies and local businesses in the Province of Abruzzo.

Maria: What courage do you have to say this? What kind of local businesses exactly? Will you spend this on fishing? On tourism? On cleaning the waters? Italy's royalty system is one of the most generous of the world, and your investors know this because you yourselves say things like "simple fiscal regime, low royalties, insignificant leasing prices". Truth is, Italy will only charge you 4% of what you will earn. In Libya royalties are over 90%. In Norway about 80%. This, according to the Economist of London. There is no amount of money you can spend to convince us that turning Abruzzo into a gigantic oil field is right.

Q: What local services do you intend to employ?

Petroceltic: All of the specialist services on board the rig will be supplied from the region. In addition, transport companies, local hotels and restaurants will benefit.

Maria: You gotta be kidding me. Hotels and restaurants will benefit from 50 people that will come work on your rig? What about all the people that will stop coming to visit us? What local specialist services are you talking about? There are none, sir. This is an agricultural, wine-making area. We don't want to turn into Texas, nor into Calgary.

Q: How many jobs will be created?

Petroceltic: Approximately 40-50 people working on the rig will be from companies in the local area.

Maria: Oh really? How come to this day no Abruzzo labor union has come to defend Petrolceltic's labor plans? We don't even have people with that kind of expertise!!! The experience in Basilicata shows that oil companies tend to hire their own, from aborad, and that there is a net loss of jobs.

Q: How much wealth will be created for the community if production goes ahead?

Petroceltic: If commercial quantities of oil are discovered and a decision made to develop and produce the field, production will mean long-term investment and jobs for the region for potentially as long as 20 years. Petroceltic will also pay tax to the Province of Abruzzo if production goes ahead. It is impossible to give a figure at this point.

Maria: This is pure demagogy. Exactly what kind of jobs for the region? And what about all the others that will disappear? The tourist operators that will have no tourists? Do you know that the oil and gas industry has caused massive land subsidence in Louisiana? Abruzzo's beaches are frail enough as is. Impossible to give a figure. Then why did you say 38 milion just two lines above? Do you people even have your facts straight?

Q: What happens if you find commercially viable oil?

Petroceltic: A number of government permits will be required to undertake further appraisal or develop the field and produce oil. This would include permits from the Ministry of the Environment.

Q: What happens if you do not find commercially viable oil?

Petroceltic: The rig will be demobilised and the well sealed with cement. Nothing will protrude from the seabed.

Maria: So you are telling us our fate depends on whether you think there is enough oil underground? Once again, such arrogance. Sirs, those waters, those beaches belong to us, the Abruzzo people and not to you, a bunch of Irish white men in corporate suits. It is us who should decide whether we want to be drilled or not. Do you get it?

Q: Will the oil rig be visible from the coast?

Petroceltic: The rig will be positioned more than seven kilometres from the shore and it will be barely visible on the horizon.

Q: How much noise will the oil rig make?

Petroceltic: The rig will not be heard from the shore.

Maria: Yes, but we will see the rig, the oil tankers, smell the pollution, and again witness our sea turning into the Gulf of Mexico. We don't want that.

Q: What about the noise impact for sea-life?

Petroceltic: The noise level of the rig will actually be lower than that of a large seagoing vessel. Therefore, the impact on marine fauna is considered very low.

Maria: Hmmh. Don't you want to tell us that you will be using air-guns and that those have the potential to destroy the hearing and orientation system of dolphins and other sea creatures? And what about the tons of toxic waste you will dump into the water and that, being so close to shore, will affect the food chain, starting from the sea bed? And what if there is an explosion? What will happen to sea life then? Once again, there is no benefit for us, just risks. So keep your oil rigs in Ireland.

Q: Is there any chance a boat can collide with the rig?

Petroceltic: We have a designated safety zone around the rig to prevent unauthorised boats entering this zone. This extends for a radius of 500 metres and is enforced by an order of the harbour office.

Maria: What gives you the arrogance to think you can come to our waters and design a safety region for your sole usage? People currently fish in those waters. Such bullies. Also, for your information, testing of Ombrina Mare, another rig that your other friends at Mediterranean Oil and gas intend to drill, revealed that they had polluted the sea, after 3 months of operations. By the way, collision happens all the time. In Korea in 2007 a collision between an oil tanker and a rig caused a massive oil spill - that county's largest oil disaster to date.

Q: How long will it take to assemble and demobilise the rig?

Petroceltic: The rig is a mobile device that takes about one day to become operational after arriving on location.

Q: Will the oil be transported to land? If so how?

Petroceltic: Around 2000 bbls of oil will be pumped to storage tanks during the Elsa 2 exploration phase as part of the testing process. This will then be transported ashore for sale or disposal. There will be no pipes to the shore.

Maria: Hmmh. And what about the possible desulfurization after the exploration phase? What are the safety measures of these storage tanks? Are these FPSOs? Where will the desulfurization happen? We already scared ENI away, so there is no desulfurization facility on ground. Will this junk be magically purified?

Q: Will there be a lot of ships going to the rig? How many and how big will they be?

Petroceltic: Small supply boats will visit the rig daily to bring materials and supplies and to take waste away.

Maria: Yes, and your environmental statement mentioned nothing of the fact the routes you propose are already being traversed by tourist boats. What if there are collisions? Accidents? What if this waste being transported on a daily basis finds its way into the sea?

Q: Where will the ships dock?

Petroceltic: The supply boats will sail to/from the Port of Ortona.

Maria: Yes, and you would want the port of Ortona - right now a minor goods port and not an oil tanker one - to be turned into an oil shipping facility, right? So much for little impact.

Q: Will the community be involved in any decisions about the exploration programme?

Petroceltic: The Ministry of Environment is conducting a public consultation to review the views of a wide range of stakeholders. We will be holding face-to-face meetings with some interested parties to address their concerns.

Maria: This is false. So far the community was not involved in any way and there are not, nor have their ever been face to face meetings. Why, you don't even speak Italian, and have never ever ever even tried to come talk to the people. The truth is you thought you could quickly get your permits and do as you pleased. You were not expecting such fierce opposition from us, the people. This feeble attempt of "communicating" with us, now that you are scared, is pathetic and comes way way way after your investors have been informed of all drilling activities. Shame on you.

Q: Are there plans to drill elsewhere in the region?

Petroceltic: We have no immediate plan to explore in other parts of this licence at the moment. Elsa 2 is our focus.

Maria: That is a big fat lie. Don't you want to tell your investors about other out-of-this world plans to go drill le isole Tremiti in le Puglie? How can you be so heartless? Le isole Tremiti is a gem, you want to go drill 4km from shore!!! These are pristine islands beloved by the Italian people, and you should simply be ashamed of yourselves.

Q: What is the track record of Petroceltic in terms of health, safety and environmental standards?

Petroceltic: Petroceltic has a firm commitment to conduct all its operations safely and maintain high environmental standards. Petroceltic has not had any environmental or significant health and safety issues within its operations.

Maria: The truth is that NO OIL DRILLING is absolutely safe, and we have no desire of letting you drill our waters. The government of Norway concedes drilling is polluting and dangerous. I happen to trust them more than you.

Q: Who actually makes the decision to allow exploration to go ahead?

Petroceltic: A number of government permits are required. The approval of the Ministry of the Environment is a key requirement.

Maria: And we will do all we can to make our voices heard, dear Petroceltic of Ireland, who know nothing about Abruzzo, her people and aspirations. Once again:

Go drill the beaches of Ireland!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our first victory against Mediterranean Oil and Gas

The Italian Ministry of the Environment has sent MOG's drilling project back to the drawing board on March 15th 2010.

Due to the avalanche of letters of protest to the Ministry - signed by the Catholic Church, the entire Province of Chieti, about 20 municipalities, tourist operators, scientists, medical doctors, fishermen, students, water sports associations, environmental and cultural groups, the Ministry did not allow not grant Mediterranean Oil and Gas the right to drill us.

MOG has itself called for a temporal suspension of their permits, and while trying to figure out what to do next, their CEO - Sergio Morandi - went on Italian TV telling people his rigs will be "safe".

Right. Just like the ones in Lousiana and Australia and Venezuela that have exploded recently.

It was the first time in Italian history that the Ministry of the Environment had been flooded with so many documents, criticizing and calling for authorities not to allow MOG to go ahead with its out-of-this-world plan.

The latter consists of drilling about 5 wells 3 miles offshore, and placing a floating offloading, storage and processing unit in one of the most beautiful seas of central Italy. Nowhere in the world has an FPSO been placed so close to shore, in such shallow waters, and in such close proximity to people's homes and beaches. The FPSO is designed to burn about 100 tons of toxic waste everyday, and will process mostly sour and heavy crude, oil of the worst kind.

On April 18th 2010, about 5000 people convened - under the rain - to say no to Mr. Sergio Morandi's plan.

Go back to London, gentlemen, you will save yourselves money and time.

We will not let you drill our waters. We simply will not.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shame on the Forest Oil Corporation of Denver

Unwanted by virtually all residents, the Denver based company Forest Oil has announced plans to drill a beloved tourist location in central Italy, lake Bomba.

This is an artificial lake, bordered by a dam, and is known for its recreational fishing activites, hiking, swimming, kayaking and just pure enjoyment of nature. It is a beautiful pristine place, beloved by the people.

Forest Oil intends build a desulfurization plant, a series of oil and gas wells and a vast pipeline network all around the lake. They are doing this against the will of the local people who have protested and petitioned the government to stop this insanity.

Geological reports conducted by the previous owner of the drilling lease - the oil company ENI - showed that the area is at strong risk for land subsidence and that drilling could lead to mudslides and dam failure.

We don't want this to happen. Forest Oil is not welcome here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

TO Mediterranean oil and gas investors, regarding Ombrina Mare

What MOG is telling you:

A few days ago, UK-based Mediterranean oil and Gas announced on several websites the doubling of its reserves for the Ombrina Mare field in the Adriatic waters off Abruzzo, Italy. Current estimates are at about 40 million barrels of oil: 12 are proven, 28 are probable.

MOG also claims that they have submitted plans for development of Ombrina Mare back in 2008 and that they expect to commence production in 2012, through one production platform, an FPSO, five wells and subsea pipelines. They also plan to furher their drilling activities in the future.

What MOG is not telling you:

MOG has not disclosed that currently THEY DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION TO DRILL THE ADRIATIC. Their permits are pending and it is very likely they will be denied.

Indeed, MOG management has been less than candid regarding the huge opposition among residents against this and any and all drilling plans for the region of Abruzzo. MOG plans to drill 6 km - about 4 miles - from shore. Its concession proposal overlaps with fishing sanctuaries. The onshore area is part of the National Park "La costa dei trabocchi". All of us love this sea immensely and MOG is playing with fire by touching something that is so sacred to the Abruzzo people.

Antidrilling sentiments are widespead and virtually every major political, business, social, cultural and religious group has been vocal about its opposition to drilling. We have sent about 100 documents to the Ministry of the environment urging them not to approve MOG's plan. Among signatories: the Catholic Church, Confcommercio (the Union of Merchants), Assoturismo, The Province of Chieti, ten municipalities, the WWF, dozens of academics, medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, school children, soccer clubs. About 50,000 signatures have been gathered so far against all drilling plans for Abruzzo.

A huge protest day against MOG is set for April 18th 2010.

Initially MOG was going to use an onshore refinery to process its crude oil, the ill fated Miglianico project proposed by ENI. The refinery was never built due to opposition from us, the people. Prime Minister Berlusconi himself during a 2008 visit declared there would be no oil refineries in Abruzzo. So MOG changed its plans and proposed the FPSO, 10 km offshore, simply beacuse onshore facilities did nto exist and could not be built by law.

If we were so strong and succesful in stopping ENI - Italy's largest and partly state owned oil company, do you think we will idly sit and let Mr. Sergio Morandi and Mr. Micheal Bonte-Friedheim take our sea from us? ENI iteslf is divesting from Italy because people will not allow them to do as they please in a country that is too beautiful to be destroyed by low grade, sulphur laden crude oil - the bottom of the barrel in words of an ENI executive.

So, the bottom line is that in my personal opinion, investing with MOG or any minor company that wants to drill ecologically sensitive Italy is like throwing your money away.

Apart from the Miglianico oil project (Ortona, ENI) that is on indefinite hold, this writer - a physicist and professor of Mathematics who is part of the Sustanability Institute at her California Institute - has been instrumental in stopping oil projects in il Parco del Curone (Milan) where the Australian firm Po Valley had plans to drill. They packed up and left due to opposition from residents. Similarly in Monopoli (Bari) the Regional Tribunal for Puglia rescinded the drilling permits awarded to Northern Petroleum.

The people of Abruzzo, all 1 million of us, will do all we can to stop MOG.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Can Abruzzo’s Tourism Afford an Oil Spill?

Today the BBC’s World Service revealed that 20,000 gallons of crude oil is trapped in Alaska’s gravel beaches from the Exxon Valedez Oil disaster and is impacting the local eco-system, sea otters, sea ducks and other sea birds, all of whom are producing an enzyme that indicates exposure to oil. The original belief was that the leaked oil would bio-degrade hence clean-up operations had been disbanded in 1992.

Professor Michael Boufadel, chairman of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Temple University, has found there is a susceptibility of beaches worldwide to long-term oil contamination where beaches tend to be gravel or a mixture of sand and gravel. What happens is that the gravel traps the oil between two layers of rock, with larger rocks on top and finer gravel underneath.

The beaches in Abruzzo are mostly soft & sandy, though there are many stony gravel ones, particularly in the Chieti region. Accidents in oil extraction from equipment failure, human error, and natural impacts, i.e. earthquakes, are not just a possibility but highly probable. The chances of accident are increased not just by the proposed oil rigs that major oil companies have applied to construct, but from oil traffic, i.e. oil tankers that would be visiting the proposed refinery in Ortona to take Abruzzo’s low grade oil to distant shores.

Abruzzo’s growing popularity as a holiday destination saw the region this weekend featured by leading UK press: The Times, who named it within its Top 10 ‘Adventure Holidays of a Lifetime’, and within The Guardian who did a feature on Abruzzo Ski-ing, and this is just for its lesser known ‘winter sports’. Tourism benefits all trades within Abruzzo not just the farmers & winegrowers who supply the restaurants, but the chefs that are employed, the marketing companies who promote the area, the printers who create marketing materials, small construction & building companies who build hotels and villas for tourists to stay, to name just a few of those and the ancillaries thereof who benefit. None of these people will be employed by oil companies nor will they have a job if there is an oil spill on Abruzzo’s Adriatic coastline.

Boufadel's study was funded by a $1.2 million, three-year grant from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. The council was formed after the environmental disaster to oversee restoration of the sound. Does the Abruzzo Government think it will be in a position of power to request such monies from any of the oil companies involved in future oil exploration in Abruzzo? Does it have funds available to pay for future unemployment that will occur if disaster strikes?

Listen to the BBC Programme, Science in Action that revealed Professor Michael Boufadel's research or read here the findings of his study on long-term oil contamination.

Trabocchi Photograph © 2010 Life in Abruzzo

Saturday, January 16, 2010

MOG's Application to Delete Abruzzo Fish Stocks & Endanger Fishermen's Jobs

The fight to stop Abruzzo being trampled by the greedy squabble for its low grade oil continues. Yet another application has been received to drill the very traditions and wildlife out of this beautiful region of central Italy, an appreciation shared by George Clooney (who has just finished filming there) and film directors Anton Corbijin and Luc Jacquet.

This new application has been submitted by the English oil giant MOG (Mediterranean Oil & Gas Co Ltd), who wish to set up an oil rig 6km opposite the Marina di San Vito that sits in the very heart of the trabocchi coastline, and slap-bang in the middle of a fish reserve. This will bring death to both fish and fishermen whose livelihoods will be ruined and who most certainly will not be employed in this enterprise if it is approved.

To understand how this will cause the local marine reserve to falter & die, one first needs to understand the stages of life of an oil platform; each stage shares a common method of dumping toxic drill cuttings and chemicals back into the sea which poisons the very life therein. All have a lethal affect on fish, birds, molluscs, and mammals like dolphins and humans that eat them. This includes cancer, stunted growth, irregular growth of feathers, scales & skin, respiratory system & liver problems in addition to irregular reproductive behaviour.

First Stage - Seismic Survey

Underwater explosions of around 250 decibels (the human pain threshold is at 140 db) are created by air guns to deduce underlying geology that is measured by the reflected sound waves. This has a particularly disturbing effect on dolphins which use sound for communication & navigation. Fish are also displaced, which in turn affects the dolphins and birds which feed on them. Studies have shown that the numbers in fish stock is reduced by 45% within 9.5 km of these blasts. The blasts can damage tissue, including lungs, guts and ears in mammals, and swim bladders in fish.

Second Stage – Drilling State

At this point, "muds" (lubricants) are pumped down, to keep the drill bit cool and to regulate the flow of oil. They consist of hydrocarbons, heavy metals (including cadmium, mercury and lead) and other toxic chemicals, as well as chemicals that stop rusting, and detergents. The drill cuttings (the removed rock) is dumped onto the seabed and the cuttings asphyxiate the life of the seabed, severely impacting the structure of the ecological communities up to several kms around.

Third Stage - Platform & Pipeline Installation

The installation of the platform & pipeline causes further disturbance to seabed ecosystems, through dredging, filling and anchoring. Underwater structures are treated with protective chemicals, which release toxins into the water. The oil platform discharges not just the water it needs to keep it cool, but sewage, constant noise and light pollution.

Most fields contain water as well as oil and gas. This "production water", containing both oil and chemicals, receives only very simple treatment before being discharged. The discharges of production chemicals is estimated at 6,000 tonnes per year (30% of quantity used), plus 84,000 tonnes of drilling chemicals.

Despite Italy signing up to the EU Directive ‘Marine Works (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2007’, it appears that scant attention is being paid to this act either by MOG Ltd or by any Italian Ministry accepting this application. We urge anyone who wishes Abruzzo to retain its diverse and healthy wildlife to write to these 2 ministeries to petition against this application, here is an example letter for those that need guidance,you will need to change your name and address, the ministery address and the application reference to the MOG reference below. Time is short, please act now as the deadline for petitioning this application is January 25th 2010.

Attention of: Direzione per la Salvaguardia Ambientale del Ministero dell'Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare
Address: Cristoforo Colombo, 44 - 00147 Roma
Application Number/Attenzione: Ombrina Mare - concessione 30 BC MD - Mediterranean Oil and Gas

Attention of: Direzione Generale della Pesca Marittima e dell'Acquacoltura del Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali
Address: Via dell'Arte, 16, Piano 3, Stanza 5 - 00144 - Roma
Application Number/Attenzione: Ombrina Mare - concessione 30 BC MD - Mediterranean Oil and Gas

Further Reading
To read the application form that MOG has submitted click here

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Kids Say No! SOS Abruzzo

Watch the brilliant video that has won a national award for local school children from Ortona. Hear why they want a future Abruzzo to remain oil free and do not want oil companies building an oil refinery in their town. It is naturally in Italian, but these clever kids have added English subtitles to extend the message, ensuring that not just politicans but English speaking Oil Companies hear their wishes.