The government of Luis Guillermo Solís in a reform of the  Decreto Ejecutivo No. 36693-MINAET of August 22, 2011, extended the moratorium on oil exploration in Costa Rica for another seven years.

The reform to the 2011 decree was signed on Friday, extending the prohibition of any activity intended to explore and exploit oil deposits in the country, both on the mainland and in the maritime territory.

The reform was signed by President Luis Guillermo Solís and the Environment Minister, Edgar Gutiérrez, in Nicoya, Guanacaste.

The President and his cabinet were in Guanacaste Friday, participating in the 190th anniversary of the Annexation of the Nicoya party to Costa Rica, and  in keeping with the tradition of holding the cabinet meeting in that province every July 25th.

After the signing, Minister Gutiérrez said that oil exploration has serious environment risks and before than can occur in the country, an analysis of the costs and benefits of the development of such activity is necessary.

In addition to the decree, the Government also signed an agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), for a US$600 million dollars and a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank for US$40 million dollars, that will be used to develop the Las Pailas II geothermal project in Guanacaste.

In 2011, then Environment Minister, Rene Castro, after signing the ban said that, the conditions on the oil market hadchanged drastically in the last years and Costa Rica is not ready to cope with the new situation. After the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico it became clear that oil exploration bears risks for the environment and that Costa Rica does not have a suitable institutional system at present, he added.

Sources: Amelia Rueda; SeeNews;  European Investment Bank;