The Barents Sea: May 29, 2014 – After 48 hours, the last seven Greenpeace International activists have been removed from Statoil’s oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen in the Barents Sea. The activists scaled the rig on Tuesday 27th May at around 5 am CET to protest the company’s plans to drill in the Norwegian Arctic, close to the Bear Island nature reserve.
The activists are from Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Philippines and Sweden. Among the activists is also 32 year old Sini Saarela from Finland, who spent over two months in Russian prison for climbing another Arctic oil rig in September last year. Just before she was removed, Sini managed to send this defiant message through to the Greenpeace vessel, the Esperanza:
“We have been occupying Statoil’s oil rig for two full days now,” she said. “During that time Statoil has not been able to move to the drill site, nor drill for oil. The police are here now, it’s just a matter of time before they will take us down.”
The removal happened peacefully, and Transocean Spitsbergen is now moving towards the drilling site a few hours further North.
“The activists are standing up for the Arctic and Bear Island. They want to save this pristine and harsh environment from oil spills. They want to stop climate change caused by burning oil. They have a clear message to Norway: it must stop Statoil’s Arctic drilling plans,” said Sune Scheller, Greenpeace Arctic Campaigner.
On Friday at 10 am CET, Greenpeace will hand over a petition calling for the protection of Bear Island to the Norwegian Environment Minister Tine Sundtoft in Oslo. The petition is currently at 80,000+ signatures and can be seen at www.greenpeace.org/bearisland.
“The activists may have been removed, but they have been joined by over 80,000 people from around the world calling on Minister Sundtoft to save Bear Island,” concluded Scheller. “Now it’s time for her to act.”
The Norwegian Government has committed not to allow oil operations near the ice edge, due to the inability to clean oil from ice. However, based on recent research from the Polar Institute, the ice edge can appear as short as 25 kilometers from Statoil’s proposed drill site. Greenpeace sees this as a clear breach of the policy, and has requested the Environment Minister to reject Statoil’s application.
Pictures & video from the activity available on: http://photo.greenpeace.org/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox_VPage&ALID=27MZIF3CYY_Y&CT=Album
- Juha Aromaa, Greenpeace communications officer (Finnish/English), +358 50 369 6202
NOTES TO EDITORS
Statoil’s drilling project is scheduled to start at the end of May and the Transocean Spitsbergen was due to arrive at the drilling site on Tuesday, the 27th of May. Statoil has said that the rig will not move to the drilling site as long as the activists are on board.
Transocean Spitsbergen is owned by the Swiss company Transocean, the infamous company that also owns the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig is flagged to Marshall Islands. The Norwegian Coast Guard had no jurisdiction over it until Marshall Islands requested help from the Norwegian authorities.
Following a complaint from Greenpeace, the Norwegian Ministry of Environment has to decide whether Statoil can drill in the planned Hoop field. The complaint was based on the proximity of Statoil's drilling project to the ‘ice edge’ and the nature reserve Bear Island. Greenpeace demands that Norway stops Statoil’s reckless Arctic drilling plans and takes a real leading role in protecting the Arctic.