My name is Andreas Bergström, from Uppsala in Sweden. I have been an activist for Greenpeace since 2006 involved in all kinds of campaigns, against for example old growth forest destruction, the building of new nuclear power plants and unsustainable palm oil production. Right now I'm on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise campaigning to protect the Arctic from the advances of the oil industry.
Since I work in the Arctic as a guide, and almost every day get to enjoy the amazing scenery and wildlife that exists up here, this campaign against oil drilling in the Arctic is very important to me.
I think it is crucial to stop the exploration of oil in the Arctic, for two reasons: One is that the climate change we are facing is hitting hardest in the Arctic and we do not want to stress this environment any more with even higher temperatures as we burn more oil and emit even more CO² into the atmosphere. Reason number two is that an oil spill like the one we saw in the Gulf of Mexico would be even more devastating in the Arctic because of the remoteness and the lack of infrastructure.
It is my hope that we can raise awareness of the environmental catastrophes this drilling could lead to, and to stop Arctic destruction before it is too late.
After a week of chasing across the North Atlantic, we finally found it: the Leiv Eiriksson.
It is one of only two rigs sent out this year to the Arctic to find out if the oil buried under the seas off the west coast of Greenland is accessible. It was a humbling experience just to see it on the horizon. But it was also a good feeling because now I can see the target and it's real I can do everything I can to tell the world what a suicide mission this Arctic drilling really is. Suicide mission is a strong phrase, but the consequences, if large scale drilling goes ahead, are huge. Not only because we are, once again, turning our backs on the more sustainable solutions like clean energy but also because we are putting the Arctic environment in great danger in the case of an oil spill.
The rig is owned by the Scottish company Cairn Energy and it is being sent out like a guinea pig to drill here. If Cairn is successful the bigger companies like Shell and BP will probably follow. But at the moment there is too much uncertainty associated with Arctic drilling, so they will probably enter the stage only when and if Cairn has confirmed that the oil is available for commercial drilling. This is one of the reasons it is important to stop the drilling now, while the Arctic oil rush is yet to begin.
Cairn is the first to claim it is good at handling “harsh environments”. And the conditions are difficult: The large number of icebergs that are present at these latitudes have to be kept at bay at all times or they could damage the rig. More importantly, the time window in the Arctic, before winter sets in and the sea ice returns, is so short that there may not be time to drill a so-called relief well in case of a blow-out. And without it a blow-out during winter, when this area is covered with ice, would be disastrous.
In reality, cleaning up a spill out here would be virtually impossible and Cairn has refused to make its spill response plan public. What have they got to hide?