Greenpeace protests Total plans to drill oil at the mouth of the Amazon

Press release - 27 March, 2017
Brussels, Belgium, 27 March 2017 - Activists from Greenpeace Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland and the United Kingdom today unveiled resistance art in the heart of the Belgian operation of Total, in the port of Antwerp. The peaceful protestors are calling for a halt to Total’s plans to drill for oil in the mouth of the Amazon.

Activists climbed a large fuel tank, a flare stack and a 90-meter-high chimney. On the tank, they revealed an art installation designed by renowned street artist Bonom (Vincent Glowinski) - before they smeared it with ‘oil’; the same fate that could hit the Amazon coral reef in the case of an oil leak. The protesters also unfurled a banner saying “Total, don’t destroy the Reef.”

Earlier the same day, Greenpeace France surprised Total in front of their headquarters in Paris with a 200 sq metre ‘oil spill’, to expose the risks the Amazon Reef is facing.

Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Bunny McDiarmid, who took part in the protest in Belgium, said:

“Scientists have just discovered an ecological treasure in the mouth of the Amazon; a unique and enormous coral reef. Yet, companies such as Total are willing to risk the devastation of this natural wonder in their greedy quest for even more oil that we can no longer afford to burn. This is complete madness. That’s why I’m here, at Total’s largest refinery, making sure the world understands the threat they pose to the newly discovered Amazon Reef.”

The effects of oil drilling in these pristine waters would not only seriously disrupt the area’s biodiversity, but could also threaten Indigenous lands and the livelihoods of local communities. Moreover, drilling for new oil reserves is no longer realistic: using coal, oil and gas supplies in operation today would already lead to more than 1.5°C of global warming, exceeding the targets laid down in the Paris Agreement to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The protest today against new oil drilling is just one of the many taking place this month, in more than 60 countries, as part of the Break Free movement. Mathieu Soete, head of the Break Free campaign in Belgium said:

“Tens of thousands of people, and hundreds of organisations, are taking action around the world to demand that companies and governments quit fossil fuels. To save our climate and environment - that we all depend on - we must opt for a more sustainable future, and accelerate the shift to an era of renewable energy.”

Greenpeace’s Bunny McDiarmid, one of the protesters, added:

“We cannot give oil companies free reign to destroy our planet’s natural riches. The Paris Agreement urges us to keep global warming below 1.5°C. It’s therefore high time that companies like Total listen to the call of the Break Free movement and move away from fossil fuels.”


Notes to editors:

Photographs and video available here: - Belgium - France

More information about the Break Free Movement:
More information about the Amazon reef:

Media contacts:

Thomas Leroy, press officer, Greenpeace Belgium, +32 (0) 496 26 31 91,

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours),