Greenpeace ship confronts first shipment of Arctic oil
by Jason Schwartz
May 1, 2014
© Ruben Neugebauer / Greenpeace
Today in Dutch waters, Greenpeace activists encountered a Russian tanker carrying the first shipment of oil ever to be extracted from the Arctic. Two Greenpeace ships were there to meet the tanker as it approached harbor in Rotterdam.
Four activists on inflatable boats from the Rainbow Warriorapproached the tanker and painted No Arctic Oil in large letters on the hull. When the tanker was in port, a separate group of activists in inflatables positioned themselves between the tanker and quayside to prevent it from offloading oil.
A second Greenpeace ship, theEsperanza,also took part to provide logistical support to the activists.
Drilling in the Arctic is a terrible idea. Given the harsh conditions and the historic carelessness of the oil industry,experts believe a spill there is inevitable. If you think clean-up is impossible in relatively accessible waters like the Gulf of Mexico (where, after the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, only a tiny percent of the oil was recovered), imagine hundreds of millions of gallons of oil slipping beneath Arctic ice.
And then, of course, theres climate change. The oil industry and governments are sparing no expense and going to the most difficult, most out of the way places on the planet just to prop up yesterdays energy source. Breaking this chain is not just an environmental imperative, it is a matter of peace and security. The fight to stop Arctic oil drilling is one of the defining battles of our time.
The Russian tankeris carrying oil from GazpromsPrirazlomanayaplatform, which is located in the Arctic Pechora Sea. The controversial platform was the site of a high profile protest last year that was met with fierce resistance from Russian authorities, who fired warning shots and used knives to slash inflatable boats.
After that action28 activists and two freelance journalists were jailed for over two months on charges of piracy and then hooliganism. The activists were eventually released under the terms of an official amnesty. The Arctic Sunrise remains illegally detained by Russian authorities in the port city of Murmansk.
Seven members of the Arctic 30 took part in todays protest, including Captain Peter Willcox, who was at the helm of the Arctic Sunrise, and FaizaOulahsen, a Dutch native. You can find a post from her here.
44 people were arrested today in Rotterdam in connection with the protest. Most have been released. Greenpeace expects the remaining detainees to be released shortly. Stay tuned for updates.