San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica government asks oil company for new environment studies

The National Technical Secretariat of the Environment Ministry (SETENA) has asked the U.S.-based Mallon Oil Company, a firm that is currently applying for an oil exploitation license in northern Costa Rica, to specify the exact locations it intends to start exploring at, reported the daily La Nación.

The request was issued ​​last Friday, the same day the Environment Minister, Teófilo de la Torre, announced that the oil firm must also expand its environmental feasibility studies as a prerequisite for starting the exploration of hydrocarbons process in the country.

However, La Nación reported on Tuesday that a decree signed in 1998 would allow Mallon Oil obtain a contract for oil exploration, without presenting a comprehensive environmental study.

“We are studying this new request,” Pedro Oller, legal representative of the oil firm, told La Nación. “It’s something we did not expect and we have to analyze it according to law.”

Since early June, Mallon Oil’s interest in its block in Costa Rica have triggered strong opposition from different sectors of society, especially environmental groups and lawmakers of the main parties (TT, June 24).

President Laura Chinchilla has insisted she will not allow oil exploration in Costa Rica, only that of natural gas (TT, June 17).

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