Auckland, 13 November 2012 – Greenpeace says it will continue to challenge Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic ahead of a court case next week where Shell is demanding $700,000 in reparations from eight activists who delayed its drillship leaving Port Taranaki to head to the Arctic in February this year.
The eight activists are due to appear in the New Plymouth District Court next Thursday, November 22, for sentencing. Seven of the activists climbed the drilling tower of the Noble Discoverer on February 24, while it was moored in Port Taranaki. All were arrested after a 77-hour occupation of the tower. An eighth activist was arrested on the first day of the operation.
Greenpeace New Zealand Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid says Shell’s reparation claim is totally unjustified, given that the activists acted out of a moral duty.
“Along with our activists we drew the world’s attention to Shell’s plans for drilling in the fragile Arctic. Since then it’s been exposed that Shell’s emergency response plan was hopelessly inadequate and failed when tested before the company gave up on drilling in the Artic for this northern summer,” she says.
“Our eight activists are not alone. Since February this year more than two and a half million people have signed a petition calling on Shell to abandon its plans for the Arctic.
“The reparation figure the company is pursuing is a drop in the bucket by comparison to the nearly US$5 billion Shell has spent on its Arctic drilling programme so far. This indicates that Shell has resorted to corporate bullying in its desperation to be the first oil supermajor to start production in the Arctic.”
In September Shell lost its bid in an Amsterdam court to stop Greenpeace peacefully protesting against its drilling programme in the Arctic.
The President of the Amsterdam court, Han Jongeneel, said the protests Greenpeace Netherlands has already taken in the Netherlands at Shell’s headquarters and petrol stations were both proportionate and appropriate in light of Greenpeace’s earlier efforts to end Shell’s Arctic oil drilling through other means.
“A company like Shell, that is taking actions or plans to take actions that are controversial in society and which many people will object to, can and should expect that actions will be taken to try to change its mind. Such actions – in order to be effective – will have to be capable of disadvantaging Shell,” Jongeneel wrote.