Greenpeace confronts reckless oil exploration

Feature story - August 15, 2010
Greenpeace is sending two ships to the frontiers of the world's oil problem. The Esperanza, currently off shore from the United Kingdom will be confronting the kind of reckless oil exploration that keeps wrecking our environment. In the Gulf of Mexico the Arctic Sunrise will examine the long-term impacts of what happens when it’s all going wrong.

Baby pelicans

Baby pelicans covered in oil from the BP oil spill at a rescue centre. © Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

Accidents like the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which caused the biggest oil spill in US history, are bound to happen again. That is unless we leave dirty fossil fuels behind and instead start using the affordable, efficient and renewable energy technologies that are available today. That’s why the Esperanza is taking the message ‘go beyond oil’ right to the source of the problem.

Oil giant BP might have finally managed to close its leaking well – but the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is far from over. In fact, many of the spill’s impacts – for endangered wildlife, the region’s ecosystems and its fisheries – will only become clear with time. The Arctic Sunrise will host a team of independent scientists, who will examine everything from the plankton on the surface to the subsurface plumes and the deep-sea corals on the floor of the Gulf. 

It was in BP’s best interest to limit media access to oiled wildlife as the oil was still spilling from the well; it’s in their best interest now to see the world’s attention move on quickly. We’re not prepared to see that happen. The team aboard the Arctic Sunrise will document and tell the full, unabridged truth about the extent of this oil catastrophe – and its impact on the ocean, which could last for decades.

The Arctic Sunrise in Saint-Petersburg, Florida, prior to departure. © Greenpeace / Robert Meyers

Sign up for the virtual Greenpeace ship

Meanwhile, Greenpeace supporters will be able to board a ship themselves – but for them, seasickness won't be an issue. Our virtual vessel the good ship Energy [R]evolution will soon need  virtual crew members to help campaign for clean energy solutions. Do you have what it takes? Sign up today to be the first to know how you can help steer the world away from oil to an Energy [R]evolution.

The Esperanza in the UK before departure on the "Go Beyond Oil" tour.

Say no to new oil and coal in New Zealand

New Zealand's coastline is too valuable to risk a catastrophe like the BP oil spill currently devastating the Gulf of Mexico. Yet the New Zealand Government has just permitted dangerous deep sea oil exploration directly off the East Coast of the North Island, and tagged many other areas in New Zealand's waters for further oil exploration. Tenders will close on 150,000 square kilometres in August alone.

Like the recently rejected proposal to open our best conservation land for mining, new oil exploration is also a move in the wrong direction for New Zealand.

OIly people at Muriwai

© GREENPEACE / Fraser Newman

Expansion of oil and coal extraction threatens our unique environment, the climate and the clean and green reputation that underpins New Zealand's economy. Our Government is struggling to understand the urgent need for a new economic vision. New Zealand deserves a clean energy vision from our Government. In the Energy [R]evolution report Greenpeace has shown that it can be done.

The answer to our dependency on fossil fuels is obvious, but New Zealand is at risk of not realising that until it’s all too late. Our competitors are collectively pouring billions of dollars a year into clean technologies and renewable energy sources. In 2008, the global investment in green energy eclipsed that of fossil fuels, attracting US$140bn compared with US$110bn for gas, coal and electricity.

Instead of looking for more dirty fossil fuels New Zealand could start leading the way on clean tech. We wouldn’t be risking our coastlines and our international reputation - we would be doing something about climate change and boosting our economy at the same time.