One of the big and ongoing stories over here of late is Repsol's planned probing and drilling for petrol off the coasts of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, some 60 kilometers out from the coast. What was just an idea quickly bevame a reality thanks to the government saying yes to Repsol's application to go ahead with their plans.
The idea alone is already scaring away the tourism giants such as TUI who have formally requested the government to deny Repsol permission to go ahead. They warn that one spill could destroy tourism in the Canary Islands forever. Although the first beaches that would be effected are those of Fuerteventura, even with a complete cleanup if a spill happens, "the Canary Islands in general would be associated with oil and the spill in a similar way as New Orleans is now associated with Hurricane Katrina."
The regional government headed by Paulino Rivero has already announced if plans go ahead they will start a court battle to stop it.
What are the chances of a spill? Repsol don't have a pretty good track record and have already been investigated by various authorities including their own (Spanish) government after various spills. In the last 5 years they have caused 7,000 leaks and spills and in one of their official statements actually say "spills are to be expected in this industry". Where does that info come from you wonder? Repsol's own website.
If oil is discovered as planned, Repsol would set up 20 drilling platforms around 60 kilometers off the coast of Fuerteventura. They calculate over the next 25 years they could extract 2,240 million barrels of oil and would invest almost 10 billion euros in the project. Repsol would make profits from this of around 2 billion euros annually with around 10% of that remaining here in the Canary Islands (jobs created, investments and taxes). Whilst that may sound like a benefit, you then have to offset that against lost investment by businesses that no longer want to gamble on the Canary Islands, TUI of course being the first that springs to mind.
Ironically, the ex-president of the Canary Islands José Manuel Soria is now the national Minister of Industry and it's his department in charge of approving or denying the go-ahead. Industry here would increase by around 3-4%, it's expectd to create around 3,000 to 5,000 jobs. Additionally 98% of energy used in the Canary Islands stems from oil. The wind and solar farms only account for 2%. This would then provide around 10% of oil needed by Spain each day.
So if Spain doesn't start drilling in their own waters it's expected Morocco will start in theirs and extract the same oil which is strengthening Repsol's argument.