Baffin Bay, Greenland - After over 40 hours hanging below the Stena Don oil rig, forcing the operators Cairn Energy to halt drilling operations, harsh arctic weather conditions have forced four Greenpeace climbers to end their occupation by climbing up onto the gantry of the rig, where they were promptly arrested.
Before ending the protest one of the climbers, Sim McKenna from the United States, said via satellite phone:
"We stopped this rig drilling for oil for two days, but in the end the Arctic weather beat us. Last night was freezing and now the sea below us is churning and the wind is roaring. It's time to come down, but we're proud we slowed the mad rush for Arctic oil, if only for a couple of days."
"This beautiful fragile arctic environment would be decimated by an oil spill. The melting Arctic ice is a grim reminder that we need to stop burning oil and invest instead in clean energy solutions."
"I'm not sure what will happen to us now, but as soon as we can we’ll be back to call for the world to finally go beyond oil. It is time for people everywhere to take a stand, to call on their governments to fight climate change, ban dangerous deep sea drilling and invest in clean energy solutions that will protect the world’s fragile environments from cowboy oil companies like Cairn Energy."
Sim McKenna joined the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, which sailed from London to the Arctic vowing to challenge the oil industry's determination to drill for the last drops of oil.
For nine days the Esperanza was shadowed by a Danish Thetis-class 120m warship, commandos in speed boats and a flotilla of police boats. The rig was forced to stop drilling because any breach of the 500m security zone around it results in a routine shutdown. The other rig operated by Cairn Energy 150km away – the Stena Forth – also stopped drilling due to the Greenpeace protest.
Cairn Energy last week claimed the Forth had struck gas and was optimistic it would strike oil. By stopping it drilling for two days, Greenpeace hopes that Cairn Energy will now struggle to meet a tight deadline to complete the exploration before winter ice conditions force it to abandon the search for oil off Greenland until next year.
The crew of the Esperanza includes Waldemar Wichmann, the Captain from Argentina; Annkatrin Schneider, deck hand from Germany; Ben Stewart and Leila Deen from the UK; Jon Burgwald from Denmark; Victor Rask from Sweden; Mateusz Emeschajmer from Poland; Timo Puohiniemi from Finland; Danielle McCarthy, Second Mate from Australia; Mannas, Chief Engineer from Holland; and Sim McKenna from the USA.