Blog intro: Ibiza and the slippery question of oil

Ibiza says no.

Ibiza says no.

This is a blog about Ibiza. It’s a personal perspective of what’s happening on this beautiful island that I’ve called home for quite some years now. I always kind of meant to blog about Ibiza (I love her so!) but just recently, that vague idea has solidified into an irresistible call to action and so here I am, grappling valiantly for the first time with WordPress. Why?

After I all, I could be out in the glorious countryside picking wild flowers, asparagus, spinach and herbs in the sunshine. I could be cooking a delicious meal. I could be at one of Ibiza’s enviable variety of stunning beaches, hanging out with great friends having a bbq. Life is wonderful you know, here in Ibiza.

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It has recently become public knowledge however, that a Scottish company called Cairn Energy plan to begin prospecting for oil deposits under the seabed around the coast of Ibiza and Formentera.

The spectre of an ugly oil rig between 25 – 40km (depending on who you ask) off the coast of Playa d’en Bossa, one of the most popular tourist beaches on the island, reared its ugly head. First disbelief, then general outrage ensued.

In a hithero unheard of show of unity, our small island mobilized itself against the central government’s plans to turn the Mediterranean into a huge oil field. An organization was set up called the Alianza Mar Blava (Blue Sea Alliance) in a heroic effort to coordinate the diverse political, commercial and community groups, united in their condemnation of the oil project.

seth troxler no!

Meanwhile, no doubt the Spanish government looks on uncomfortably, stuck, it seems, between a rock and a hard place, as the whole world watches and some of the most influential celebrities on the planet add their voices to the dissenters.

Spain you see, imports over 95% of it’s domestic fossil fuel energy needs and with oil prices constantly rising, this is wreaking havoc with the Spanish economy. The government is locked into paying the interest on loans they take out to pay for their energy needs, in order to appease the insatiable bank accounts of international financiers.

This situation is pushing the country to the point of bankruptcy. They are desperate to find a domestic energy supply.

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Those who oppose the oil search, point incredulously to the sky and the sea. They quite rightly point out that Spain has abundant potential for solar, wind and tidal power, woefully underutilized and an obvious domestic energy source.

Renewables do actually work in Spain, they not only service nearly half of its power demand, they cut energy imports, and consequently reduce Spain’s massive trade deficit, making the economy stronger, increasing tax revenue and consequently reducing Spain’s borrowing needs.

The question many are asking is why the search for dirty energies at all? When there is an ample and inexhaustible supply of renewables? Especially when the well documented risks to the environment are so great and the associated risks to the massive tourist industry literally incalculable?  This blog will explore some of these important questions in more detail.

es vedra 2

What has unfolded over the past couple of weeks has been quite extraordinary. There has been an outpouring of such emotion and passion on all sides of the debate that it’s difficult to represent here, within the confines of this cold, impersonal stream of binary data from my computer screen to yours.

Art, you see, has been one of the main protest tools of this particularly creative movement. The Eivissa Dui No! (Ibiza Says No!) campaign for example, has seen not only hundreds of young people, but also a good sprinkling of normally reticent, middle-aged Ibicencos, stripping off their clothes before being photographed, covering their modesty with a large sign saying Eivissa Dui No!

These photos are currently stampeding through the social networks, attracting global media attention. This is a tiny selection.

eivissa says NO

Some say cynically that this is a cheap photo opportunity that detracts from the real, serious issues. Some say it’s revolutionary. Only time will tell. As an ‘art as protest’ movement, it is certainly significant.

hermi dice no!

That is why this blog is dedicated to compiling all the events, art, photography, issues, debates and articles surrounding this important moment in history, not only for our small, much loved island of Ibiza, but for the direction the whole world is going in.

The global question of how we are to satisfy our constantly expanding energy needs must be addressed. If Ibiza is successful in it’s No! campaign, then where will the oil rig go? Tarragona doesn’t want it either, nor Valencia, nor Mallorca, nor the Canary Islands.

What will unfold? Because the world is watching curiously and Ibiza and Spain in general are not alone in the alluring gleam they provoke in the profit hungry eyes of the big energy boys.

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All over the world there are similar struggles by countless communities, big and small, from Australia to the UK against the relentless advance of the renewed global search for ‘dirty’ fuels.

As world oil reserves advance rapidly towards their inevitable end, the desperation to find new supplies, in areas previously considered too dangerous, is now probing into ever expanding parts of the planet. The situation here in Ibiza and the debate it raises, is a microcosm of this global issue.

Many intelligent, reasonable folk of the island have so far refused to sign the petition against the oil exploration, with scornful accusations of ‘nimbyism’ (Not In My Back Yard’) and hypocrisy levied at the protesters. This kind of sentiment was echoed succinctly by one anti-protester at last week’s demonstration at Vara Del Rey in Ibiza Town. His placard read “NO! To Oil! (but YES! To Cars).

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On one hand, this does seem to be a fair cop. Ibiza, as one of Europe’s most expensive, luxury destinations, is not exactly noted for it’s general adherence to a green code of conduct although there are lots of small, dedicated groups on the island pushing stoically against the tide for exactly that.

No. Ibiza is much more famed for it’s legions of yachting aficionados, merrily polluting the sea all year round. In fact, the island is cheerfully hosting this year’s Powerboat Grand Prix, an event that marine conservation groups view with special disgust.

Not to mention the mountains of waste and pollution caused by the huge tourist industry that rises hedonistically from Ibiza’s azure and white shores each year, accompanied by the millions of plastic bottles, bags and take away cartons it generates.

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On the other hand, many people are extremely conscious here on the island of the need to reduce their use of oil products. There are many, many ways to do this. Therefore, this blog will devote a whole section to exploring and documenting stories of the practical and creative ways that residents of the island are changing their lifestyles. Plus a whole heap of resources and people you can contact to find out more.

There are also many obstacles strewn, sometimes deliberately, into the path of making the change to renewables. We will examine some of these social, political and economic difficulties surrounding the question of why the renewable clean energy that we all appear to want seems to be a such an elusive and expensive option for the conscious consumer.

Why is this? To discuss possible reasons and solutions I will invite guest-bloggers, experts and professionals who know much more about the technicalities than I.

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If you have a blog post you’d like to contribute on this theme either from Ibiza or anywhere else then please get in touch.

Above all this blog is about positivity. Impending disaster can be a great social cohesive. It brings communities together; talking, arguing, creating, sharing ideas, believing in something again. In a disconnected world of bitstrips, Barbies and Facebook friends, it’s good to see.

Let’s get some really meaty stuff on the debating table. But let’s do it respectfully.

I’m interested in exploring opinions, issues, actions and solutions with all in a respectful and tolerant space. Don’t bother trolling, i’ll only take it down. So welcome and be nice, please 🙂

This blog is in English, because it’s intended as a resource for the international community. However, if anyone wants to translate it into any other language then please feel free to contact me here.


Please bear with me as I curate materials and upload them. Best wishes from Ibiza and thanks for reading.

Special thanks to Jonathon Gleaves for his expertise on the Spanish energy market and his contribution to this write-up.


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