|Greenpeace track Russian oil tanker. Photo credit: tcktcktck.
By Anders Lorenzen
The infamous Arctic oil protest led by Greenpeace last year at the Russian oil drilling platform Prirazlomnaya, owned by Gazprom, is now back in the spotlight, as the oil from that platform has reached Europe. As we reported at the end of last year, Gazprom announced that they were now producing oil on a commercial scale from the Prirazlomnaya platform.
Last year, 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists were arrested by the Russian coast guard following a peaceful protest against Arctic drilling at the Prirazlomnaya platform. They were detained for two months during a period where they faced charges from piracy to hooliganism and were eventually released due to international pressure, but over six months later the Russian authorities have still not released the Greenpeace ship; the icebreaker the Arctic Sunrise.
Greenpeace are saying that an oil spill in the Arctic would be disastrous and impossible to clean up.
In the absence of the Arctic Sunrise, one of Greenpeace’s other ships, the Rainbow Warrior, tracked and followed the Russian tanker: Mikhail Ulyanov, which was delivering the first ever Arctic oil to a port in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Gazprom is the first company to successfully have conducted offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. Previously, the Scottish oil company Cairn Energy had unsuccessfully carried out test drilling off the Greenlandic coast. The Dutch oil giant Shell have been forced to delay their plans for drilling in the Alaskan Arctic as the drilling rig the Kulluk ran aground.
It’s still difficult to grasp the extent of how much oil Gazprom are producing, but Greenpeace say that the shipment has already been met with significant delays and are unsure if that is due to production problems or that they’re waiting for Russia to cut export duty which applies to crude oil. However Greenpeace does believe the quality of the oil is poor as it contains high quantities of sulphur, they say that’s why the oil is being sold at a low price of $80 per barrel.
The French oil company Total were the first company to purchase the Arctic oil. This is despite a statement last year from Total ruling out oil drilling in the Arctic labelling it as reckless. the Arctic labelling it as reckless.
Sub edited by Charlotte Paton