In a recent news item on the BBC, Artur Akopov, chief of operations on the Prirazlomnaya, made a number of absurd claims about the safety of the peaceful Greenpeace action on the side of Gazprom’s giant oil platform. In a subsequent report, the company also made some peculiar comments on its ability to successfully clean up an oil spill in the freezing waters of the Arctic.
We tend to hear this sort of thing from the oil industry now and again, about how they’ve finally mastered the most extreme environment on earth and have everything at their disposal to drill through the thickest ice without any problems. Usually we ignore this type of verbosity, knowing that it’s all talk, but this time is different.
Given the seriousness of the charges the Arctic 30 face, I think it’s important to set the record straight so people have the opportunity to judge for themselves whether Greenpeace even remotely risked the safety of the Prirazlomnaya or whether Gazprom could deal with an Arctic oil spill.
Gazprom made four claims, which I’ll address in order:
Claim 1: "By coming so close Greenpeace could have damaged the base of the platform"
Our response: This is a ludicrous claim. The Prirazlomnaya is over 100m square, designed to withstand being hit by massive chunks of ice during the Arctic winter and has over 200,000 tonnes of rubble and concrete holding it in place. Our inflatable boats were like flies next to an elephant:
The whole platform has a gravitational weight of over half a million tonnes, while Gazprom said itself that"the base platform can withstand a direct torpedo strike,". The idea that a small rubber inflatable could cause significant damage to it is plainly absurd.
Claim 2: "When they threw up their equipment they could easily have hit somebody”
Our response: Our climbers carefully used a small catapult to senda rope line, weighted with nothing more heavy than a small rope ball, over a fixed point on the side wall of the platform where the anchor line is attached, as you can see in the photo below: