If debt interest rates reach 4%, António C Silva considers a bailout will be “inevitable”; he mentions the country’s aversion to Angolan investments and considers pertinent to explore gas in Portugal.
In an interview to ECO, António Costa Silva, the president of Partex Oil and Gas, owned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, discussed the current Portuguese politics and economy, as well as the oil industry.
He considers the Portuguese government, led by the prime minister António Costa, is “hanging by a thread”, because he believes that his government, “like many others, does not take into consideration a crucial matter: the economy. No one in this country cares about the economy, the companies or the investment”. António Costa Silva believes no country can exist “without a healthy economy or without attracting investment; and these variables have been utterly failing”.
When asked if there are enough investment incentives in the 2017 State Budget, the president of Partex said “there are not”. “I believe companies in this country are not nurtured enough, there is no room for investing. Companies are the ones who generate investment, not the State; if there is no focus on the companies, on relaunching the economy, employment and investment, our economy will always have a weak growth”.
Due to his skepticism about the economy’s growth, he believes Portugal could need a new bailout at any time. In his point of view, if debt interest rates surpass the 4% mark, a new bailout “will be inevitable” – he recalls the debt interest rates are already surpassing the 3.5% percentage. To reverse this, he believes “the economic policy must be completely changed”.
António Costa Silva states Portugal has an unwillingness to receive Angolan investments. He believes they should be welcome like any other, as long as investors respect Portuguese laws. “This mind frame must change, since we need investment”, Partex’s president states.
Finnaly, concerning the exploit of potential gas reserves in Portugal, António Costa Silva agrees it makes “absolute sense” to do so in the Algarve (south of Portugal), more than it does to exploit oil reserves – that may, in fact, not be there. The natural gas prospecting project in the Algarve was suspended in the Partex and Repsol consortium; Partex is “discussing the issue with the Portuguese government and awaiting a decision from the competent authorities” to resume the project. There are many setbacks, namely the fall in oil prices, the “mind frame of a country that is hostile towards enterprises” and the stand taken by environmental groups.