Arctic oil rig protest ends with eighteen arrests

Press release - 4 June, 2011
MEDIA UPDATE: 18:30 CET 4 JUNE 2011.– Greenland, 4 June 2011 -- Eighteen Greenpeace activists who scaled an Arctic oil rig and prevented it from drilling have been arrested. Eight hours after their protest began, police used heavy cutting equipment to remove the last four from the crane cabins in which they’d locked themselves.

The eighteen campaigners boarded the 53,000 tonne Leiv Eiriksson 180km off the Greenland coast at 5am local time. They demanded to see the rig’s Oil Spill Response Plan, which operators Cairn Energy have kept secret. Today Cairn again refused to make the document public – going against all industry norms.

A helicopter carrying twelve of the activists left the rig at around 11am local time. They were taken to the Greenland capital Nuuk. Police confirmed to Greenpeace that the remaining six will also be taken to Nuuk.

Before boarding the rig Greenpeace International oil campaigner Ben Ayliffe - who is leading the delegation - said:

“Cairn Energy is hiding its oil spill response plan so we’re going to the one place where there must be a copy of it. It’s obvious why Cairn won’t tell the world how it would clean up a BP-style oil spill here in the Arctic, and that’s because it can’t be done. Experts say the freezing temperatures and remote location mean a deep water blow-out in this stunning pristine environment would be an irreversible disaster. If they published the plan, the dangers of investing in such a high risk venture would be laid bare. We have to draw a line in the ice and stop the Arctic oil rush.”

Cairn is now seeking an injunction against Greenpeace claiming that the earlier protest in which two activists in an arctic survival pod hung from the underside of the giant drilling rig hindered operations. Cairn argues that every day the rig is prevented from drilling costs the company up to US$4 million. If granted, the injunction would mean Greenpeace would have to pay 2 million Euros in fines for every subsequent breach and every day the campaigners stop the Leiv Eiriksson operating. The case will be heard in a Dutch court on Monday. ENDS

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