Greenpeace US activists block Shell’s Alaska-bound oil rig

Press release - 15 June, 2015
Seattle, 15 June, 2015 - Thirteen activists in kayaks have intercepted Shell's drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, in Seattle's Puget Sound as the rig prepared to depart for the Arctic. The Greenpeace US activists have secured themselves together to block the Polar Pioneer’s departure while additional activists join the protests on the water nearby.

In May, the Obama administration approved Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic. Since that approval, both Shell's rigs, the Polar Pioneer and the Noble Discoverer have failed routine inspections. Shell plans to use the Polar Pioneer to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic in less than two weeks from now.

Paloma Henriques, one of the kayaktivists in the blockade, said: “I’m just one voice out here, but I know I’m not alone. I believe that confronting Shell will encourage more people to take a strong stand against them and other companies who are seeking to destroy this planet for profit. We are here to send a message to President Obama that it’s not too late to stop Shell from destroying the Arctic.”

The activists unfurled a banner in front of the rig echoing the demands from around the world, “Shell No” to Arctic drilling.

Annie Leonard, the Executive Director of Greenpeace US, said, “Shell wants to haul its 40,000 ton Arctic destroyer to Alaska as soon as possible, but these courageous individuals are saying, ‘Shell No.’ Every minute that brave protesters can delay Shell’s Arctic drilling plans is another chance for President Obama to reconsider his disastrous approval of oil drilling in Alaska. The President’s decision on Arctic drilling will be a deal breaker for his climate legacy, but it’s not too late for him to stop this catastrophe before it starts.”

In April, six Greenpeace activists intercepted the same oil rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 750 miles north-west of Hawaii and scaled the 40,000 ton platform, occupying the rig for nearly a week.  Since then, there has been a broad movement in Seattle and beyond to stop Shell’s rigs from leaving for the Arctic, including a protest of several thousand people, 500 on kayaks.

The Noble Discoverer is one of the oldest drill ships in the world. In December 2014, Noble Drilling, one of Shell’s biggest Arctic sub-contractors and owner of the Noble Discoverer, pleaded guilty to eight felonies related to Shell’s failed attempts to drill in the Arctic Ocean in 2012.

“We are grateful and stand with the protesters in Seattle who are determined to stop Arctic Drilling before it starts. Shell’s Arctic venture is seriously reckless. This company has no capability to address an oil spill in unpredictable ice conditions and has proven in previous attempts that they are not equipped for the harsh and volatile conditions of the Chukchi Sea,” said Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands.

In an environmental analysis, the Obama administration predicts a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill if all of the Chukchi Sea's oil is produced.

Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to put an end to Shell’s drilling in the Arctic this summer.



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