Greenpeace International activists 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. Photo: © Greenpeace.
Greenpeace Arctic oil rig occupation 'may delay drilling'
28th May 2014
Greenpeace activists are well into the second day of their occupation of an Arctic oil rig in the Barents Sea, which they say endangers the nearby Bear Island nature reserve. Statoil has conceded that drilling may have to be delayed.
We live on a beautiful, fragile and unique planet, and there is no plan B for Earth. We should be safeguarding its future, not destroying it for the last drop of oil.
A team of Greenpeace activists has now occupied the Statoil oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen for 36 hours, calling for an end to oil drilling in the Arctic and the protection of the nearby Bear Island nature reserve.
Speaking from the rig, Elmer Vestidas, a Greenpeace Arctic activist from the Philippines said:
"I've spent a pretty cold night outside on this rig, but we Filipinos are tough. I'm here because Statoil's risky project isn't just a threat to Bear Island and the amazing wildlife we saw there.
"Typhoon Haiyan was one of the worst things that ever happened to my country, and unless we speed up the switch to clean technology these disasters will happen again and again."
"Places like the Philippines and the Arctic are already on the front line of climate change. This is an era-defining battle, and I am honoured to be with this international group of activists to help win it."
Rig 'will not arrive while activists are on board'
While ten activists spent the night on the rig, five were helicoptered to land late last night after deciding to end their protest. They are now safe and in good spirits in Hammerfest, Norway. None were arrested.
The remaining activists are backed by almost 70,000 people who have signed a petition urging the Norwegian environment minister to block Statoil's drilling project which is near the Arctic ice edge and the Bear Island nature reserve.
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. Statoil has said that the rig will not move to the drilling site as long as the activists are on board.
Statoil: drilling may be delayed
In an interview with Bloomberg yesterday, Statoil spokesman Oerjan Heradstveit suggested that the intended start date for the project may have to be delayed due to the protest, which has brought international attention to Norway's northernmost drilling project.
"The action has so far been peaceful, but it's still an irresponsible and illegal action", Heradstveit said by mobile phone, adding that it was "too early to say" if the drilling scheduled for the end of the month will be delayed.
UK activist Katie Furlong, 27, from Telford, said: "I'm here because I truly believe that the time is now to end our dependence on oil, and to move towards a clean and renewable future.
"We live on a beautiful, fragile and unique planet, and there is no plan B for Earth. We should be safeguarding its future, not destroying it for the last drop of oil. I want to look back and be proud that I stood up with 5 million Arctic Defenders to say no more, and not regret that I could see what was wrong and did nothing."
Deepwater Horizon link
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. Until it reaches its final drilling position, it has the status of a foreign ship and the Norwegian Coast Guard has no jurisdiction over it.
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.
Petition: Norway - Protect Bear Island!
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