Norwegian authorities end two-day Greenpeace occupation of Arctic oil rig

Filipino activist included in the protest action against Arctic oil drilling

Press release - May 29, 2014
The Barents Sea-- After 48 hours, Greenpeace International activists have been removed from Statoil’s oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen in the Barents Sea. The activists scaled the rig on Tuesday 27th May at around 5 am CEST to protest the company’s plans to drill in the Norwegian Arctic, close to the Bear Island nature reserve.

Greenpeace International activists from eight countries scale and occupy Statoil contracted oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen to protest the company's plans to drill the northernmost well in the Norwegian Arctic at the Apollo Prospect of the Barents Sea, close to the Bear Island nature reserve. 05/27/2014 © Greenpeace“The activists are standing up for the Arctic and Bear Island. They want to save this pristine and harsh environment from oil spills. They want to stop climate change caused by burning oil. They have a clear message to Norway: it must stop Statoil’s Arctic drilling plans,” said Sune Scheller, Greenpeace Arctic Campaigner.

The removed activists are from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Philippines. Among them is 36 year old Elmer Vestidas from Makati City and a longtime volunteer for Greenpeace Philippines. He has been working as a volunteer deckhand onboard the Greenpeace ship the MV Esperanza since February 2014.

“Places like the Philippines and the Arctic are already on the frontline of climate change. I have seen and experienced the brunt of the impacts of extreme weather events in my country.This is an era defining battle, and I am honoured to be with this international group of activists to help win it,” said Vestidas.

The Transocean Spitsbergen is now moving towards the drilling site.

On Friday at 10 am CET, Greenpeace will hand over a petition calling for the protection of Bear Island to the Norwegian Environment Minister Tine Sundtoft in Oslo. The petition is currently at 80,000+ signatures and can be seen at

“The activists may have been removed, but they have been joined by over 80,000 people from around the world calling on Minister Sundtoft to save Bear Island,” concluded Scheller. “Now it’s time for her to act.”

The Norwegian Government has committed not to allow oil operations near the ice edge, due to the inability to clean oil from ice. However, based on recent research from the Polar Institute, the ice edge can appear as short as 25 kilometers from Statoil’s proposed drill site. Greenpeace sees this as a clear breach of the policy, and has requested the Environment Minister to reject Statoil’s application.


For more information:

Juha Aromaa, Greenpeace Communications Officer (Finnish/English), +358 50 369 6202;
Therese Salvador, Greenpeace Philippines Media Campaigner, 0917-8228734;

Pictures & video from the activity available on:

Notes to the Editors: 

Statoil’s drilling project is scheduled to start at the end of May and the Transocean Spitsbergen was due to arrive at the drilling site on Tuesday, the 27th of May. Statoil has said that the rig will not move to the drilling site as long as the activists are on board.

Transocean Spitsbergen is owned by the Swiss company Transocean, the infamous company that also owns the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig is flagged to Marshall Islands. The Norwegian Coast Guard had no jurisdiction over it until Marshall Islands requested help from the Norwegian authorities.

Following a complaint from Greenpeace, the Norwegian Ministry of Environment has to decide whether Statoil can drill in the planned Hoop field. The complaint was based on the proximity of Statoil's drilling project to the ‘ice edge’ and the nature reserve Bear Island. Greenpeace demands that Norway stops Statoil’s reckless Arctic drilling plans and takes a real leading role in protecting the Arctic.

For more on Elmer Vestidas, please go to