Legal Ruling Will Not Stop Us!

Dutch judge grants oil company injunction against Greenpeace protests

Feature story - June 13, 2011
A Dutch judge has granted an injunction imposing substantial fines against Greenpeace if the organisation’s activists continue trying to stop drilling by a controversial Arctic oil rig.

Injunction granted to stop Greenpeace actions

Here Greenpeace activists prepare to scale the underside of the 53,000 tonne Leiv Eiriksson oil rig. Their action prevented the rig from dangerous deep water oil drilling. A dutch judge has since granted an injunction imposing substantial fines against Greenpeace if the organisation’s activists continue trying to stop the drilling within 500m of the oil rig. © Steve Morgan / Greenpeace

Althought the Judge granted the injunction, he significantly reduced the level of the penalties sought from €2 million per ‘infraction’ to €50,000 up to a limit of €1 million. This applies to any attempt by Greenpeace to go within 500 meters of the two deepsea drilling rigs currently operating some 180 km off the coast of Greenland.

Importantly, in reaching the decision the Judge explicitly referred to Cairns refusal to release its Oil Spill Response Plan.

Greenpeace reacted to the ruling by renewing its demand that the public be allowed to see Cairn Energy’s Arctic oil spill response plan, which has been at the centre of a six-week campaign of direct action that has seen 20 people jailed in Greenland.

Cairn operates the 53,000 tonne Leiv Eiriksson rig, which Greenpeace activists prevented from drilling for five days last week – first by hanging a survival pod from its underside, then by scaling the rig and demanding the spill plan be made public. A series of activities which the Judge observed had served “a general public interest with its call for attention to the risks of the drilling.”

The 18 Greenpeace activists who scaled the rig on Saturday to demand the plan be made public are still in jail in Greenland.

Earlier last week during the injunction case the judge asked Cairn why it had not released the plan, saying that public concerns over the safety of the drilling were legitimate. Cairn has still not published the plan, with the company’s lawyers claiming that its release is not permitted by the Greenlandic authorities -- a claim refuted by independent legal advice obtained by Greenpeace showing that there is no such impediment to the plan’s publication.

“This ruling won’t stop us demanding Cairn Energy’s missing oil spill clean-up plan," said Ben Stewart, an oil campaigner on board the Esperanza, positioned near the Leiv Eiriksson drilling rig.

"They’re keeping it secret because publishing it would show in black and white what all the experts have been saying: you can’t clean up an Arctic oil spill. They can hire all the lawyers in the world, but they won’t stop our campaign to kick the oil companies out of the Arctic. This is one of the defining environmental battles of our age, and it’s one we’re going to win.”

He continued:

“The oil companies are only looking to move into the Arctic because the ice cap is melting due to climate change. They look at the retreating ice and they see it as a chance to move their rigs in and drill for the fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It’s madness.”

Greenpeace this week submitted an official complaint to the ombudsman of the Inartsisartut (the Greenland parliament). The complaint details how Greenpeace has applied for 17 different documents but been given access to only two. Greenland’s Bureau of Mineral and Petroleum refuses to disclose a series of other documents – including Cairn’s oil spill response plan; papers detailing how Cairn will pay for a clean up operation if a spill occurs; and a series of technical reports that would shed light on the risky nature of Arctic oil drilling.

Take Action!

You can help us protect the Arctic! Write to Cairn Energy’s CEO today to demand to see their Greenland oil spill response plan.