Greenpeace highlights danger of Arctic drilling in four day oil rig and drill site occupation

Photo credit: Greenpeace.
 By Anders Lorenzen
A sucessful four day Statoil rig occupation by environmental group Greenpeace came to an end last Friday evening.

Between Tuesday and Friday last week, for 90 hours exactly, Greenpeace activists occupied the Statoil operated Transocean Spitsbergen oil rig due to conduct exploratory drillings in the Norwegian Arctic, close to the biodiverse rich Bear Island part of the Svalbard archipelago. Greenpeace say that in the event of an oil spill, oil could engulf the island in less than a week, pitting the the island’s unique ecosystem at serious risk.

Despite the fact that Statoil will now proceed with the oil drillings, Greenpeace succeeded in to causing massive damage to the Statoil brand and ingthe severe risk of Arctic drilling. The activity was heavily covered in Norwegian, Russian and international media, and went viral on social media through the hashtag #OccupyArcticOil. 
Greenpeace activists scaling the Statoil rig. Photo credit: Greenpeace.
Greenpeace insist their ship was acting entirely within the confines of international law throughout, and that the Norwegian coastguard in fact breached international law when they removed their ship from the site via towing. Greenpeace’s Legal Counsel Daniel Simons commented: The Norwegian Coastguard has stopped a legal and peaceful Greenpeace action. The Esperanza was exercising its right to freedom of navigation as guaranteed in international law. While inconvenient for Statoil, her actions were lawful, in contrast to the intervention by the Coastguard.”
This activity is the latest installment in Greenpeace’s extensive campaign to stop drilling for oil in the Arctic, Statoil being just the latest of the world’s oil majors that the organisation has taken action against alongside companies like Shell and Gazprom.

Statoil used to be seen as one of the most responsible oil companies operating in the world but has in recent years seen that reputation slip away. A growing number of Statoil shareholders are angry about their unethical stake in the Canadian Tar Sands and those investments are being questioned at their annual AGMs. Their Arctic strategy, which involves drilling deep into the Barents Sea, could further deepen that dissatisfaction and bring more woes for the Norwegian oil and gas company which is 70% owned by the Norwegian state.

Sub edited by Kirstie Wielandt

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