Green Peace activists have staged two separate actions against oil rigs headed to drill in Arctic waters.
The Barents Observer reports that early Tuesday morning activists boarded the Transocean Spitsbergen rig miles offshore in the Barents Sea. Since then a few of the original 15 protestors were carried by helicopter off the rig, with others vowing to keep up their efforts. According to a press release from Green Peace, the company that owns the rig, Statoil, says they won’t move while activists are still staged there. The rig was en route to drill at what would be the world’s northern-most well. Green Peace and environmental advocates in Norway say a spill so far north would devastate the nearby Bear Island wildlife sanctuary 108 miles away. The action comes just a day after a separate group of 30 Green Peace activists occupied and attached chains to a rig owned by Russian oil giant Gazprom, preventing the vessel from leaving a Dutch port. All the protestors were removed in a matter of hours. But Green Peace says on their website these are just the opening salvos in a growing campaign of direct actions to ban Arctic drilling all together. A public relations manager for Statoil called the protests “illegal and irresponsible,” saying that decisions about oil drilling need to happen with a democratic context. The company told the Barents Observer it believes an oil spill in the high Arctic is unlikely, and that measures are in place to handle it.