Actor Lucy Lawless joins Greenpeace New Zealand activists in stopping a Shell-contracted drillship from departing the port of Taranaki for the remote Arctic, where its exploratory oil drilling programme threatens to devastate the Alaskan coastline

It's almost a year since we climbed the Shell-contracted drilling rig, Noble Discoverer.  Landing on the pier that day we felt dwarfed by the vast 53 meter drill tower that sat atop this rusting hulk which Shell was to use to pioneer their drilling programme in the Arctic.

Insignificant as we were we felt something had to be done – a light had to be shone on Shell’s insane plans to drill for oil in the icy Arctic wilderness.

Not in my wildest dreams did I think we would succeed as we did remaining atop the drill tower for over 77 hours.

During daylight hours I explained dozens of times to outlets from CNN to the Taranaki Daily news why we were taking such a dramatic stand.

For my part I feel I owe it to my children to be counted among those demanding immediate action on climate change.  If we don’t stand up to companies like Shell and call them to account for their reckless pursuit of oil into the farthest unspoiled reaches of the world, who will? 

The arctic is like a vital organ of the earth – a regulator of the world’s temperature.  As it melts we see ever more erratic weather – the marker of intensifying climate change.

By the fourth day when the police finally ascended the tower to arrest us, 130,000 added their voices to our call that Shell quit the arctic

It’s the thing I’m proudest of, that we spearheaded what would become an international call of over 2 million people who have joined the campaign to save the Arctic.  

Following our action the world has watched an unfolding list of mishaps and failures in Shell’s Arctic programme (1).  It has become an issue that can’t be ignored and the US government is now reviewing Shell’s plans for 2013.

To me, that terrible old tank – the 45 year old Nobel Discover – is a perfect example of Shell’s craven disregard for the Arctic.

I’ll say this for them, Shell’s certainly not risk averse –environmental or financially.  Shell’s Arctic foray has cost them and their investors billions and was for the most part a failure. 

The last thing they wanted was the spotlight we shone on them from that port town in New Zealand. 

But you and your grandchildren don’t have to join me up a drill rig to have your say in turning the high Arctic into a sanctuary just click here.

 

(1)    Shell drill program – the mishaps:

  • In July the Noble Discoverer slipped anchor in the sheltered waters of Dutch Harbor, Alaska;
  • In November the engine of the drill ship caught fire as it returned to Dutch Harbor, and had to be put out by specialist fire crews;
  • In December it was revealed that the oil spill containment system that Shell was supposed to have on-site in the Arctic was badly damaged in September testing. A Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement representative said that the sub-sea capping stack was “crushed like a beer can”.
  • On 31 December, Shell's sister Arctic drilling oil rig, the Kulluk, ran aground off the coast of Alaska whilst being towed back to harbour in Seattle. It had hit heavy weather in the Gulf of Alaska a few days earlier which caused the 400ft towing line to break and the rig to drift free;
  • In January 2013 Shell were cited by the US Environmental Protection Agency for violating its air pollution permits for both drill vessels;
  • Also in January, the US Government launched a review of Shell's drilling plans in the Arctic.