Greenpeace activists stop sales at all Shell petrol stations in Zurich

Press release - 30 June, 2015
Zurich, 30 June, 2015 - In the early hours of this morning, around 85 Greenpeace activists blocked all Shell’s fuel stations in Zurich. The protest is part of a global campaign seeking to challenge Shell’s controversial plans to drill in the melting Alaskan Arctic.

Activists from across Europe chained themselves to the petrol pumps and from the roof of one petrol station they have hung a banner with the message “Stop Shell”.

“If Shell drills in the Arctic it could devastate this iconic and beautiful place, and its incredible wildlife, like polar bears and walrus.  All the evidence shows Shell can’t drill for oil safely in the Arctic. The extreme conditions mean it’s when, not if, a spill will happen“ saysNadine Berthel, Head of Greenpeace Switzerland’s Arctic Campaign.

“Rather than see the melting Arctic as a warning sign Shell’s sees an opportunity to drill for more of the oil that is driving climate change. Shell is facing protests and opposition from around the world and here in Switzerland we too are saying keep Shell out of the Arctic“

In May, the Obama administration approved Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic. Since then Shell has faced increasing public pressure over its Arctic drilling plans. Shell’s Arctic rig the Polar Pioneer has faced multiple protests as it travels towards the Arctic, including a camp out as it travelled across the Pacific Ocean, a several thousand strong 'Kayaktivist' protest movement in Seattle where it stopped over for maintenance, and an Indigenous activist protest at sea as it sailed through Canadian waters.

Climate change is melting the Arctic sea ice at an alarming rate, and this March the Arctic experienced the lowest sea ice maximum ever recorded. As the ice recedes, it becomes easier for oil companies to reach further into the Arctic and extract the reserves of oil and gas buried beneath the ocean floor. 

The extreme Arctic conditions, including icebergs and stormy seas, make offshore drilling extremely risky. The US administration itself acknowledged a 75% chance of a large oil spill over the lifetime of oil production in the Chukchi Sea. Scientists say that an oil spill in the Arctic would be impossible to clean up, endangering the Arctic’s unique wildlife.

Earlier this year, researchers concluded Arctic drilling is incompatible with limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, a target agreed by most governments.

Shell’s past attempt to drill in the Arctic in 2012 was plagued with operational failings culminating in the running aground of its drilling rig, the Kulluk. Shell has returned to the remote Chukchi Sea with the same contractor, Noble Drilling, which pled guilty to eight felonies following its last Arctic venture. Shell’s second rig contractor, Transocean, was implicated in the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

ConocoPhillips, Eni and the Norwegian oil giant Statoil all suspended their Alaskan Arctic drilling plans. Shell has already spent $6 bn, and is expected to spend a further $1 bn this year on Arctic exploration.


Notes to editors:

Further information, photo and video material at or from:

Nadine Berthel, Arctic Campaign, Greenpeace Switzerland, +41 77 436 13 87

Mirja Schneemann Mediensprecherin Greenpeace Schweiz, +41 79 728 28 70 or

Press office Greenpeace Switzerland: +41 44 741 11

Photographs and footage available at: