Cairn discovery poses grave threat to climate and the Arctic

Press release - 24 August, 2010
Baffin Bay, Greenland, 24 August 2010 - Scottish-based Cairn Energy has today announced the discovery of gas in Arctic waters off the coast of Greenland. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is at the site in a stand off with Cairn and Danish Navy warships just west of Disko Island in Baffin Bay.

Speaking from the Esperanza, which is currently positioned within sight of the two rigs Cairn is operating in the area, Greenpeace campaigner Leila Deen said:

"Cairn might be a step closer to finding oil off Greenland, but this takes us one step back in the fight against climate change and poses a grave threat to the fragile Arctic environment."

So far Cairn has refused to publish a comprehensive plan for how it would deal with a spill from the platform, and has just 14 vessels capable of reacting to a spill (BP's response in the Gulf of Mexico required more than 6,500 vessels). A blowout in a scenario where a relief well cannot be completed in the same drilling season could lead to oil gushing until at least next spring, with spilt oil becoming trapped under sheets of thick ice (1).

Greenpeace is calling on Cairn to immediately halt its drilling operation and to publicly release their safety plans for the operation. A Freedom of Information request from Greenpeace for the plan to the Greenland government was refused.

Speaking from Greenpeace International's headquarters in Amsterdam Tzeporah Berman, Greenpeace International Climate and Energy Co-Director issued a stark warning to the oil industry: "We are in the Arctic today to put Cairn and the global oil industry on notice: the world needs to move beyond oil in order for us to develop sustainable, resilient economies, protect our environment and create a clean and safe future for our children. This confrontation in the Arctic is only the beginning."

Greenpeace is campaigning to protect the Arctic from industrial destruction and is seeking an immediate moratorium on all such exploitation in the vulnerable Arctic Ocean. Globally Greenpeace is calling for:

o A ban on new offshore drilling and exploration for other high risk unconventional oil sources, including the arctic and Canadian tar sands; o Phase out of remaining oil drilling; o Government must require all oil companies to be fully insured for all liabilities; o An end to fossil fuel subsidies and an increase in support for clean energy; o Strong laws and policies that limit global warming pollution and stimulate a clean Energy [R]evolution.

For more, contact:

Tzeporah Berman, Greenpeace International Climate and Energy Co-director, Tel.: +31 6 43 78 73 93 Szabina Mozes, Greenpeace International Communications, Tel.: +31 646 16 20 23

For background images and footage:

Melissa Thompson, Greenpeace International Video Desk: + 31 621 296899 Emma Stoner, Greenpeace International Picture Desk: +44 (0)207 865 8230

Notes to editors:

 (1) A. Mayeda 2010. Oil-spill relief well off Canada's Arctic coast would take three years: regulators. Postmedia News