Greenpeace Activists End Arctic Oil Rig Occupation

Feature story - September 3, 2010
Severe weather has forced activists to end their occupation of the Stena Don oil rig in the Arctic last night: after two days of hanging some 15 meters above the frigid Arctic waters and forcing the rigs operators, Cairn Energy, to suspend drilling, the activists are now safe and under arrest.

Go beyond oil

Activists halted dangerous drilling for over 40 hours at the Stena Don oil rig in the Arctic.

Read more about why our climbers decided to come down and what we have accomplished during the two-day occupation.

The activists climbed the oil rig to demand that Cairn Energy end its dangerous drilling in the Arctic and for the world to go beyond oil towards a safer more sustainable future. For nine days the Esperanza was shadowed by a Danish warship, commandos in speed boats and a flotilla of police boats.

Cairn is also operating a drilling ship in the area of Baffin Bay, the Stena Forth, which also had to be shut down during the Stena Don occupation.

The oil drilling rigs are operating in an area known locally as ‘iceberg alley’. Cairn Energy regularly has to tow icebergs out of the rigs paths or uses water cannons to divert them. If the icebergs are too large then the company will have to move the rig itself to avoid a collision. Last month, a 260 square kilometer ice island broke off the Petermann glacier north of Disko island and will eventually make its way south through Nares Strait into Baffin Bay and the Labrador Current making these dangerous operations a reality once again.

Last week Cairn Energy claimed it had struck gas and was optimistic it would strike oil. By stopping it drilling for two days, Cairn Energy might now struggle to meet a tight deadline to complete the exploration before winter ice conditions force it to abandon the search for oil off Greenland until next year. We’d hoped to stay longer, we’d hoped to extend the shut down to run Cairn out of time to finish its exploration programme before the harsh winter weather forces them out of the region until next year. A year is a long time: enough time, we hope, to get a global ban on deep sea oil drilling.

Before ending the protest one of the climbers, Sim McKenna from the United States, said via satellite phone:

“We stopped this rig drilling for oil for two days, but in the end the Arctic weather beat us. Last night was freezing and now the sea below us is churning and the wind is roaring. It’s time to come down, but we’re proud we slowed the mad rush for Arctic oil, if only for a couple of days.”

Baffin Bay is home to 80 to 90 percent of the world’s Narwhal whales.  The region is also home to blue whales, polar bears, seals, sharks, cormorants, kittiwakes and numerous other migratory birds.  Don’t let Cairn Energy continue to gamble with dangerous drilling in the Arctic.

  • Take Action! Sign the petition to keep new deep sea oil drilling out of NZ waters.