Today an Amsterdam court judge turned the tables on Cairn Energy. Rather than granting an injunction against Greenpeace, he instead suggested that the oil company might actually like to consider releasing its secret Arctic Oil Spill Response Plan!
Cairn’s lawyers looked dumbfounded and stuttered about not knowing why their client won't release it.
The judge went on to say that BP's skimping on a second valve cost the world billions as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He said BP must regret that they didn't have their plans scrutinized in the first place because someone would have noticed the lack of a second valve. Safety is in everyone’s interest - by being transparent perhaps there is an opportunity to make the spill plan stronger. In fact, he asked Cairn, why won't you release your plan? Right now? Why don't you release it now?
We couldn’t have said it better.
We'll try and get this news through to the eighteen activists currently in jail in Greenland. They were arrested after scaling Cairn's rig in the Arctic on Saturday to demand the plan be made public. For them this will be happy vindication of their action.
Cairn’s lawyers used the same tired excuses saying they could not release the plan as this would be against the wishes of the Greenlandic authorities. However our independent legal advice shows that this is a load of rubbish.
There is nothing whatsoever stopping Cairn releasing the plan.
By this time the Cairn lawyers were sweating a bit, but the judge still wasn't finished.
He went on to ask how Cairn would pay for any oil spill clean up. He was highly unimpressed when Cairn’s legal team tried to reassure him that it had a cap on financial exposure. The judge said he didn't think the concern is over the health of Cairn’s finances - the concern is the impact on the environment and the cost of the clean up!
So, now the Dutch court is joining us and the 18 activists currently jailed in Greenland in demanding the secret oil spill response plan be made public.
Cairn should cease drilling operations immediately. It does not need to wait for the final ruling to release the secret spill plan. They can do it now. Their claim in court that they cannot because Greenland is preventing it is bogus. Every minute it's allowed to drill in the Arctic poses an unacceptable threat to the pristine environment in a search for oil we cannot afford to burn.
Cairn took a beating in the court room today trying to silence peaceful protest and hide from public scrutiny. The people of Greenland should be very worried about the kind of people who are drilling for oil off their coast. And their investors should be asking themselves just what it is that no one is being allowed to see, and how big a risk they are exposing themselves to.
The Judge will make a final ruling on the injunction on Wednesday evening. It's not over yet - so watch this space.
For now we’ll stay put here in the Davis Strait off the coast of Greenland.
Photo (C) GREENPEACE / Steve Morgan