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Russia blocks Greenpeace ship from entering Arctic waters

by Cassady Craighill

August 22, 2013

Greenpeace activists on RHIBs confront the Akademic Lazarev seismic vessel. Greenpeace is confronting the vessel in the Barents Sea north of Russia, protesting the Russian oil giant Rosneft as it prepares to drill for oil in the fragile Arctic. Early this morning, as the Rosneft-contracted vessel Akademic Lazarev began firing underwater sound cannons up to 250 decibels in the Fedynskiy license block, Greenpeace approached the vessel, demanding that it stop operations immediately. Rosneft has recently signed joint deals to drill in the Arctic with international oil companies including ExxonMobil, BP and Statoil.

© Will Rose / Greenpeace

Crossposted from the Guardian

Confronting Russian Seismic Vessel in Barents Sea

Russiahas blocked aGreenpeaceship from enteringArcticwaters where the environmentalist group was planning to protest againstoilexploration activities by Rosneft andExxon Mobil, the group has said.

Russian authorities had denied the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise entry to the Northern Sea Route, citing questions over the vessel’s ice strengthening, Greenpeace said in a statement.

It said the Arctic Sunrise has a higher ice classification than many of the more than 400 vessels that have been granted access to the northern sea route this year.

“This is a thinly veiled attempt to stifle peaceful protest and keep international attention away from Arctic oil exploration in Russia,” Greenpeace campaigner Christy Ferguson said.

“The Arctic Sunrise is a fully equipped icebreaker with significant experience of operating in these conditions, while the oil companies operating here are taking unprecedented risks in an area teeming with polar bears, whales, and other Arctic wildlife.”

Russia’s northern sea route administration referred calls seeking comment to its transport ministry, which did not respond.

Greenpeace said it wanted to expose the offshore activities of Russian oil company Rosneft and its US partner Exxon Mobil in the Kara Sea, north of western Siberia. The companies are preparing to begin drilling operations there next year.

Greenpeace and other environmentalists have warned that drilling in the remote and icy Arctic could lead to devastating spills, threatening fish and wildlife already under pressure from climate change.

The activists have scaled offshore platforms in watersoff Greenlandandnorthern Russia, stunts that were carried out to draw attention to the oil industry’s move into the Arctic.

US officials estimate the region holds up to 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30% of its untapped natural gas. Climate changeis expected to make those deposits easier to reach as the Arctic ice cap shrinks.

The melt is alsoopening up Arctic sea lanes like the Northern Sea Route, where shipping activities are growing rapidly.

Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

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