Activists stop Chevron deepwater drilling ship off the Shetland Islands

Feature story - September 21, 2010
Our activists are taking action against a massive oil drilling ship, stopping it from leaving to drill a deep water well off the Shetland Islands. They are now swimming in front of the ship to prevent its progress.

Survival Pod

UPDATE: After hanging on the ship's anchor chain for several days, the activists had to leave after Chevron took legal action to force down the pod they resided in. Swimmers took the relay, however, and are now blocking the ship by swimming in front of it.

Anais and Victor climbed up the giant anchor chain of the 228m long drill ship, Stena Carron, and suspended themselves  from the chain in a tent. They are preventing the anchor from being pulled up and effectively blocking the ship from moving to its drill site. And while we’re stopping one operation - we are calling on North Sea governments to adopt a ban on all deepwater drilling.

Listen to Victor talking on the phone about what it's like hanging off the anchor chain.

Two days ago a handful of our activists slipped away from our ship, the Esperanza, in Aberdeen and boarded a ferry for the Shetland Islands. Then this morning, when the drill ship looked like it was about to move - they started the peaceful action.

The ship is operated by oil giant Chevron and was due to sail for a site 200km north of the Shetland Islands to drill a well in 500 metres of water in an ecologically sensitive area known as the Atlantic Frontier.

Anais and Victor have just returned from a Greenpeace expedition to the Arctic, where they were members of the team that stopped drilling at a controversial deep water drilling rig operated by Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy.

Stopped

Chevron's deepwater drilling operations in the Atlantic Frontier has been blocked by Greenpeace activists.

Speaking this morning by satellite phone from the tent hanging from the Chevron anchor chain, 29 year old Anais Schneider from Germany said:

“It was incredible to climb up the anchor chain, the rungs were nearly as big as I am and Chevron’s drilling ship is one of the biggest things I’ve ever seen at sea. I’m in the tent now and we have supplies to last through to tomorrow at least, meaning we can stop it leaving to drill for oil in deep water. The Shetlands are so beautiful and an oil spill here could devastate this area and the North sea. It’s time to go beyond oil. Our addiction is harming the climate, the natural world and our chances of building a clean energy future.”

The other occupant of the tent held in the anchor chain, 38-year old Victor Rask from Sweden said:

“UK Prime Minister David Cameron said his government would be the greenest ever, but he won’t even support a plan to protect our seas from a BP-style disaster. Instead of drilling for the last drops in places like this, the oil companies should be developing the clean energy technologies we need to fight climate change and reduce our dependence on oil. In order to shift the oil companies and governments need to ban deepwater drilling. In the longer term we need a permanent shift away from fossil fuels towards clean energy solutions.”

UPDATE 1 (21/09/10 PM): Victor and Anais are spending the night suspended above the waves on the anchor chain. Read more >> Victor tells us what it's like there this evening.

UPDATE 2 (22/09/10 AM): Victor and Anais have now returned safely to the Esperanza. Inflatable boats launched from the Esperanza towed a 2 metre diameter 'survival pod' to the Stena Carron drill ship. Two new activists are now secure inside the survival pod, where they are protected from the elements and have supplies to last for at least a month. >> Read more...

The area west of Shetland is believed to hold 2bn-4bn barrels of ‘oil equivalent’ in oil and gas.  BP already operates three oil and gas fields in the area, in water no deeper than 1,800ft. In July 2010, BP confirmed that it plans to drill at much deeper depths at a potential field called Cardhu, a few miles south of the Chevron site.

We saw what happened in the Gulf of Mexico only a few months ago. The world’s biggest oil spill was a direct consequence of reckless deepwater drilling. It’s time we go beyond oil and stop gambling with our environment and the climate.

This occupation comes just two days before environment ministers from countries bordering the North Sea meet in Norway to discuss a proposal to ban new deep water oil drilling in the area at the OSPAR Convention. The UK government is sending two ministers to the meeting to block the proposal.

>> Follow the latest at GoBeyondOil.org and find out how you too can take action.

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