Oil pipeline and refinery in Balboa, Extremadura, Spain

Description

The Balboa refinery was a project pushed by the Extremadura regional governemnt (PSOE party) to build both an oil refinery in Los Santos de Maimona (Badajoz) and also the related infrastructure to distribute it (a 200Km long oil pipeline that would go from the refinery to the Huelva port). The company which was going to build the refinery was Grupo Alfonso Gallardo. The refinery was aimed to be the biggest industrial project of Extremadura. It aimed to produce petroleum-derivated products such as diesel oil, kerosene or coke. The project planning started in 2005 and was abandoned in 2012, after receiving a negative EIA. The oil pipeline project was to cross Natural Parks, environmentally protected areas by EU legislation and important bird habitats. From 2005 onwards, several groups emerged opposing the project and a platform against the refinery was created. They wrote reports detailing the negative impacts and organised several protests against the refinery. They also published books and brought experts from different fields to run workshops and eventually mobilised thousands of people against the project. They made massive demonstrations, in which some activists were arrested. The Platform also brought the Regional government before the Highest Court of Justice for violating Constitutional rights. They won the courtcase in 2009. Most of the opposition was concerned with the severe environmental impact that the refinery would imply in Extremadura, primarily an agricultural area. Portugal, which was also affected by the project, was also against it. In 2013 the project was not approved by the Spanish Ministry of Environment and was cancelled.

Basic Data
NameOil pipeline and refinery in Balboa, Extremadura, Spain
CountrySpain
ProvinceBadajoz, Extremadura
SiteSantos de Maimona
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Oil and gas refining
Specific CommoditiesCrude oil
Diesel Oil
Sulfur
Coke
Kerosene
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsDirect and indirect jobs: 3000 The project would have the ability to process 5,750,000 t/year of crude and other raw materials, and would generate 5,411,000 t/year of products.

The oil pipeline linking the refinery to the Huelva port would be 200 km long. The oil pipeline and the water supply would cross the following municipalities: Los Santos de Maimona, Villafranca de los Barros, Alange, Almendralejo, La Zarza, Torremejía, Calamonte (only the oil pipeline), Mérida and Villagonzalo (only for water supply).

The natural areas crossed by the oil pipeline would be: LIC/ZEPA ES0000025 Marismas del Odiel, also considered as a Reserve of Biosphere, Ramsar wetland and Natural park.

LIC ES6150029 River Tinto estuary.

LIC ES6150013 Odiel dunes (which is also a public utility) LIC/ZEPA ES6150003 Natural Estero de Domingo Rubio Natural park.
Project Area (in hectares)200
Level of Investment (in USD)1,630,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population20,000
Start Date2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesGrupo Alfonso Gallardo from Spain
Iberdrola from Spain
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment, Regional government
International and Financial InstitutionsCaja Extremadura from Spain
BBCA & Caja Madrid from Spain
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPlataforma Refinería no, Ecologistas en acción Extremadura, WWF, Asociación para Defensa de la Naturaleza de Extremadura (ADENEX)., Coordinadora Ecologista de Huelva, Grupo Extremeño de Amigos de la Naturaleza (GEXAN), Mesa de la Ría de Huelva, SEO, ADENA
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Repression
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Development of Alternativesorganic agriculture and environmentally-friendly activities
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The project was stopped by the Ministry of Environment after years of engaged and active opposition.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Ley 2/2010 de modificación del texto refundido por la Ley de Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental de proyectos 1/2008:
[click to view]

References

Spanish Ministry of Environment. Resolution on Balboa refinery. Its a complete summary of the project:
[click to view]

Book published explaining all the process of the struggle with pictures. 2013. El emperador estaba desnudo. Plataforma refinería no.

Links

web de la plataforma refinería no:

[click to view]

Media Links

Video with lots of images from the struggle against the refinery:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAmaranta Herrero
Last update03/05/2014
Comments