Greenpeace activists occupy Arctic oil rig

Feature story - 31 August, 2010
Our activists are suspended 15 meters above the frigid Arctic waters of Baffin Bay. They have taken up position on the drilling rig Stena Don to call for a ban on deep sea oil drilling in the Arctic, and demand that ‘wild cat’ oil company Cairn energy stop drilling, pack up and go home. The banner? “Hands off the Arctic, go beyond oil!”

Activists occupy the Stena Don oil-rig in the Arctic demanding an end to Arctic drilling

Early this morning, our climbers left the Esperanza and headed out into the misty Arctic waters of Baffin Bay, off Greenland, and headed straight for the drilling rig, which is being operated by a British company Cairn Energy. They had to outrun Danish Navy commandos before climbing up the inside of the rig and hanging from it in tents suspended from ropes. They have enough supplies to stay in their hanging tents for several days.

If they are able to halt the drilling for just a short time, Cairn Energy will struggle to meet a tight deadline to complete its exploration before winter ice conditions force it to abandon the search for oil off Greenland until next year.

The Esperanza, has been anchored between the Stena Don rig and Stena Forth drill ship, which are 20 miles apart, for nine days now. A Danish Thetis-class warship has stayed in close vicinity throughout.

Follow the action live from the Esperanza

The fragile environment west of Disko Island is known as Iceberg Alley due to the plentiful icebergs and tough conditions. This has deterred oil companies from attempting exploration there in recent years, but the world’s oil giants are watching the Cairn project with great interest.

Cairn Energy's Stena Don oil rig is scaled by Greenpeace campaigners to prevent it from drilling off the coast of Greenland.

If Cairn is successful the Arctic could be flooded with oil companies, all trying to operate in hazardous polar conditions. Analysts are expecting a whole new Arctic oil rush, with Exxon, Chevron and other energy giants already buying up licenses to drill in the area. The implications for the area, which has populations of blue whales, polar bears, seals and migratory birds, could be devastating.

None of this has to happen. We have the great chance to go beyond oil by launching an Energy Revolution, ending fossil fuel subsidies, increasing the support for clean energy and launching strong laws and policies that limit global warming pollution – all that is needed is the political will to do so.

Join the activists and take action! Tell Cairn Energy to get out of the Arctic.

Get updates from the ship tours! Read the latest blog updates from the Esperanza in the Artic and the Arctic Sunrise in the Gulf of Mexico as they fight to Go Beyond Oil.