Follow the journey of the Arctic Sunrise Into the Arctic.
The Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise was drifting not far from the vessel Geolog Dmitry Nalivkin which is doing seismic exploration for Rosneft and ExxonMobil oil companies.
We were preparing for peaceful protest against extremely risky Arctic oil exploration, putting the inflatable boats on the water. Together with other activists I was staying on the deck of the Arctic Sunrise, waiting for a signal to climb down to the boat. Meanwhile on the bridge our captain was calling to Nalivkin on the radio, but it had not responded. Instead, the Russian coast guards answered: they demanded Greenpeace stop the peaceful protest, get prepared to accept their inspection and leave the Kara Sea. Our inflatables were on the water and we’d just unfurled a banner reading “ Save the Arctic” when our captain asked us to come back: Russian security service were boarding the Arctic Sunrise and threatening us with preventive fire.
Coast guards had their mission in the Kara Sea: to protect the oil industry; Greenpeace had its own mission: to protect the Arctic. State-owned Rosneft, the biggest oil company on the planet, is the number one threat to the Russian Arctic. Working together with Western partners — ExxonMobil, Statoil and Eni — it is doing seismic and geological exploration in the Barents and Kara Seas, preparing to start extremely risky Arctic oil drilling.
The Russian Arctic is a surprisingly beautiful region. However from the Arctic Sunrise deck we often see not only dolphins and whales but also oil exploration vessels dragging 8-kilometer long equipment firing underwater sound cannons deafening for marine wildlife. It is happening because Rosneft has 33 license blocks for oil exploration on the Arctic shelf, with a total area exceeding 1.1 million square kilometers, roughly 3 times the size of Germany.
To see Rosneft-contracted vessels in the Arctic is especially worrying for me: I have been in Rosneft's oilfields in Siberia and know how irresponsibly this company treats oil spills. In June, together with Greenpeace, I explored Rosneft oil spills near Surgut. Every day we traveled hundreds of kilometers and saw the same landscape everywhere: black oil lakes and bogs, perished forests, and animals forever stuck in oil slush... 216,000 barrels – this is the total volume of the leaks of Rosneft every single year. And it is happening not far from the biggest Russian cities, where they have infrastructure, oil spill cleaning equipment and human resources at their fingertips.
While the Greenpeace ship crew is protesting against Arctic oil exploration, our colleagues on shore have again left for a Rosneft oil spill expedition. After our last visit there, Greenpeace submitted complaints about the spills to Russian state authorities. On paper, changes may have been made since. But in reality, Siberian landscapes are still “decorated” by black oil lakes and bogs, dead animals and plants. The bigger catastrophe will happen in the Arctic if we do not stop Rosneft and its partners.