Updates: Greenpeace activists pull off two protests at once against Arctic drilling
by Jason Schwartz
May 27, 2014
Monday June 2 11:00 AM EST UPDATE:
The Norwegian Coast Guard informed the Captain of the Esperanza on Saturday morning that our ship and its crew is free. This follows a boarding by the Norwegian Coast Guardwith no basis in international or Norwegian law. Since the boarding, the Coast Guard towed theEsperanza in the direction of the city of Troms, from where Esperanza departed before the action. The towline has since been disconnected and Coast Guard vessel is moving away.
This video covers the entire 90-hour occupation, from Greenpeace activists boarding the Statoil rig, to the Norwegian coast guard boarding theEsperanza.
We will go to Troms and pick up the activists that the police brought there earlier on. We have accomplished what we could for now, said Sune Scheller, Arctic Campaigner onboard. We occupied Arctic Oil for 90 hours, in which Statoil has had to put its plans to drill the northernmost well in the world on hold. Also, we have turned peoples eyes towards the northernmost drill site in the world. The campaign to Save the Arctic will continue, and hundreds of thousands of people keep joining it. Soon, there will be so many of us that the Oil Industry won’t be able to just tow us away.
Friday May 30 5:27 PM EST UPDATE: The Coast Guard has attached a tow line and is now towing theEsperanza from the drill position. Follow theEsperanza on Twitter to see it happen in real time.
Friday May 30 UPDATE: After occupying the spot where Statoil was planning to position its Barents Sea rig, the Greenpeace shipEsperanza is now on the verge of being boarded by the Norwegian Coast Guard. The action can be watched on the Espy‘s webcam right here.
Thursday May 29 UPDATE: In the early hours of the morning, Norwegian police and special forces boarded the Statoil rig in the Barents Sea and removed the remaining Greenpeace activists. The removal went peacefully, and protesters were returned to the Greenpeace ship Esperanzain good spirits.
The Esperanzais now positioned on top of the expected drill site, preventing the oil rig from being positioned there. Ultimately, this is the purpose of the whole action: to prevent an oil rig from setting up in an environmentally vulnerable place. The crew of the ship has been encouraged by an outpouring of international support and are planning on staying awhile.
Of course it helps that Greenpeace lawyers know of no law that says a foreign vessel engaging in peaceful protest must make way for another foreign vessel that wishes to engage in environmentally reckless drilling.
Here are some photos a badass video taken from Sini’s and Rosa’s perch, right before special forces were lowered to remove them.
Wednesday May 28 UPDATE: The once cordial relationship between activists and workers on the Statoil rig in the Barents Sea has turned frosty. In the video below, a worker on the rig can be seen cutting down a Greenpeace banner and pulling it out of activists’ hands.
It is the presence of the Greenpeace activists that is keeping Statoil from moving the rig to its drill site in the Barents.Some of the original 15 activists occupying the rig in the Barents Sea have been airlifted off. But others, includingSini Saarela of the Arctic 30, have remained on board.
Check back for updates as things develop.
Tuesday May 27: In the early morning hours, while most of us were snug in our beds, Greenpeace activists from 12 countries staged protests at sea in a non-violent, direct action against the destruction of the Arctic.
A group of 30 activists in the Dutch port of IJmuiden occupied the GSP Saturn, a rig contracted by Russias state owned energy company Gazprom. The GSP Saturn was on its way to the remote Pechora sea. They were removed from the rig after occupying it for five hours. Some were detained, but all activists have now been released.
Another group of 15 is still occupying the Transocean Spitsbergen, hundreds of miles offshore of Norway. Those activists are provisioned to occupy the rig for awhile, and they have reported that their relationship with rig workers is fine. That particular rig, which is under contract by Norways state owned companyStatoil,is preparing to drill the worlds northernmost well in the Barents Sea. Both Gazprom andStatoilsprojects are taking place well inside the Arctic circle.
This isnt just a publicity stunt. The fact is, Arctic drilling and climate change are big, systemic problems, ones for which there arent simple, convenient solutions, like recycling, or buying organics. Those things help, but as Greenpeace activists show time and time again, sometimes opposing the status quo is about leaving the comforts of home and taking to the streets or the high seas.
The protests come as Greenpeaces Arctic campaign is getting ready to ramp up. As it is for most citizens of the world, the Arctic is extremely important to Greenpeace, and we know it is important to our supporters. The danger of drilling there and exposing the Arctic to inevitable catastrophic spills is matched only by the risks of the needless drive to perpetuate a fossil fuel economy, pushing us all to the brink of irreversible, catastrophic climate change.
The websites of Shell, Gazprom, orStatoilmightlook different, but their willingness to ignore the reality of oil spills and the human cost of climate change is exactly the same. These are companies whose value is based on taking oil out of the ground. Meanwhile, the continuance of life as we know it depends on keeping it there.
Through a series of embarrassing failures, Shell has already shown the world how difficult it is to extract oil in the US Arctic. And the BP Deepwater Horizon let us all know how difficult it is to cap an underwater blowout, even under the relatively serene conditions of the Gulf of Mexico.
Greenpeace is calling for a ban on oil drilling and unsustainable industrial fishing in the whole of the Arctic, as well as a protected sanctuary around the North Pole.
In September last year, the arrest and imprisonment of the Arctic 30 a group of peaceful activists and freelance journalists protesting a Gazprom rig in the Pechora led to an international outcry and a renewed focus on Arctic oil development. Arctic 30 member Sini Saarela, of Finland, is among the protesters onboard theTransocean Spitsbergen.
(Listen to the brilliant Masha Gessen talking about the Arctic 30 and its connection to a new age of Russian politics on WNYC here.)
Its not like oil companies dont recognize the risk. Since the Greenpeace Arctic campaign began, the French oil company Total has ruled out drilling for oil in the offshore Arctic, its CEO stating that a spill would do too much damage to the image of the company. Russian oil giant Lukoil has alsosuggested it ‘wouldn’t give a kopeck’ to offshore development in the Arctic. The government of Finland last year adopted the concept of an Arctic sanctuary as official policy.
A worldwide petition atwww.SaveTheArctic.orghas attracted the support of over five million people. Wont you join them? And if you havent already, take time to make sure the US government keeps the Arctic off limits. Sign the petition to against Arctic oil leases.