Cairn calls in the navy then wields a legal lump hammer to stop us protecting the Arctic

by Ben Ayliffe

June 3, 2011

Last night, Hannah and Luke, our two brave climbers, were removed from the Arctic survival pod that had been suspended from the underside of the 53,000 tonne Leiv Eiriksson oil rig, here off the coast of Greenland, for the last 100-odd hours.

By hanging near the “moon pool” where the rig’s drill-bit would normally be sunk, they stopped it drilling for over four days.

The two were arrested and taken to the Greenland capital of Nuuk, where they remain in custody, but are safe and well. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza, where I am sitting now, remains just outside the 500m exclusion zone, imposed by a Danish navy warship, around the Atammik drill site in these chilly, fog-bound seas.

You would have thought that getting the armed might of the Danish navy involved to remove to peaceful protestors and stop us shining a light on dangerous deep water drilling in the Arctic would be enough for most companies.

Not Cairn Energy (LON:CNE), the rig operator.

It has gone a step further, lodging legal papers threatening us with massive fines of 2 million Euros for every day we are here stopping the rig drilling.

The claim will be heard in Amsterdam on Monday, but what’s more, in these legal papers Cairn says that the delays we have caused its drilling are costing it $4m a day.

Now, earlier today the company claimed to media, including the BBC, that the four-day occupation has had “no impact on its schedule.” Yet in the court documents Cairn estimates that “the damage resulting from delay to those drilling activities at least USD 4 million per day. The urgent character of the plaintiffs’ demand thus speaks for itself.”

What to believe? Personally, I think we all know the word to use when one person is telling two different things to two different people, knowing full well that only one of them happens to be correct, but our lawyers have just reminded me that they’ve yet to meet a poor libel lawyer. Suffice to say that were Bill Gammell ever caught making such outlandish claims in public his nose would grow to such a length that he could quite easily use it to drill a deep water well of his very own.

Since we started our occupation Cairn has hid behind the Greenland government and the Danish Navy, and now it’s trying to use the Dutch courts to stop us exposing the huge risks it’s taking with this beautiful and fragile environment, or cover up the threat to the economy of Greenland, which is so reliant on fishing.

It can hire all the lawyers it likes, but they won’t shut down our campaign to kick the oil companies out of the Arctic. We’ll challenge Cairn and its expensively suited lawyers every step of way.

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