Auckland, 27 February 2012 - The occupation of an Arctic-bound Shell drillship by six Greenpeace activists including actor Lucy Lawless ended this morning after police climbed the ship's drilling tower and arrested the group. (1) The protest was into its fourth day and the activists had spent 77 hours on top of the 53-metre drilling tower.
"This chapter has ended, but the story of the battle to save the Arctic has just begun," said Lucy Lawless, before being arrested. "Seven of us climbed up that drillship to stop Arctic drilling, but 133,000 of us came down."
She continued, "We will continue to stand in solidarity with the communities and species that depend on the Arctic for their very lives until Shell cancels its plans to drill in this magical world, and makes the switch to clean, sustainable energy."
Despite the fact that the charge of "unlawfully being on a ship" was available, prosecutors have chosen to charge the protestors with the more serious crime of burglary. Greenpeace insists that no property was taken or damaged during the occupation.
The activists entered the Port of Taranaki at 6:30 a.m. on February 24, scaled the drilling tower of the Shell drillship the Noble Discoverer and set up camp. The ship was preparing to leave for the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska where it is scheduled to drill three exploratory oil wells this summer.
Over the course of the four-day occupation, more than 135,000 people sent an email to Shell executives telling them to cancel their plans to drill in the Arctic. Thousands of people tweeted messages of support to Lucy and the activists using the hashtag #savethearctic, which also featured on banners hung from the drillship. Celebrities like Jared Leto and the official Beatles twitter page posted messages to their followers as well.
"We did what we came to do," said Lawless. Together we sent a clear message to Shell that has echoed across the globe - it's time to draw a line in the ice and say: enough."
Shell is the first major international oil company to make exploitation of the Arctic a major focus. If the Noble Discoverer strikes oil this summer, other global oil giants will quickly follow and spark an Arctic oil rush. The company has a very tight window in which to drill for oil. Freezing temperatures, extreme weather conditions and a highly remote location pose unprecedented challenges, and make an Arctic oil spill virtually impossible to contain and clean up. (2)
According to a senior official at a Canadian firm that specialises in oil-spill response: "there is really no solution or method today that we're aware of that can actually recover [spilled] oil from the Arctic." (3)
Total estimated Arctic oil reserves would satisfy just three years of current global oil demand, but would both contribute significantly to carbon emissions and pose a grave risk to the local ecosystem. (4) Numerous reports show that through energy efficiency and clean energy, global energy needs can be met while leaving the Arctic untouched. (5)
Notes to editors:
(1) The six activists who were arrested this morning are: Mike Buchanan from Christchurch, Shayne Comino from Christchurch, Raoni Hammer from Christchurch, Shai Nades from Wellington, Vivienne Hadlow from Auckland and Lucy Lawless from Auckland. (While seven activists began the occupation on Thursday morning, one activist, Aucklander Ilai Amir, was forced to end his involvement in the occupation on Saturday afternoon for personal reasons.)
(3) Ron Bowden, manager of international sales with Aqua-Guard Spill Response, a company that specialices in oil spill response based in North Vancouver says "there is no way to clean up a spill in the Arctic." http://www.sikunews.com/News/Canada-Northwest-Territories/No-one-knows-how-to-clean-up-an-Arctic-oil-spill-7692
(4) According to the US Geological Survey the Arctic contains a maximum of 90 billion barrels of oil. Global demand is currently roughly 90 million barrels per day (mb/d); the IEA's world energy outlook 2011 anticipates that oil demand (excluding biofuels) will rise from 87 mb/d in 2010 to 99 mb/d in 2035. By calculation, this amounts to at most three years of global oil consumption in the Arctic.
Contacts: Jessica Wilson Greenpeace International communications +31 653 504 719 Greenpeace International Press Desk Hotline: +31 20 718 2470 Photo/video: Julie Konop, Greenpeace Video Desk, tel: +31 646 162 009 Alex Yallop, Greenpeace International Photo Desk, tel: +31 624 941 965