Norwegian energy giant Statoil’s oil rig en route to drill in the Arctic was boarded by Greenpeace activists this morning.
A group of 15 activists are occupying the Transocean Spitsbergen to try and delay its start drilling operations in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea.
The energy company recently got approval for the work from the Norwegian Government.
Protestors hung banners that read ‘No Arctic Oil’ and ‘Stop Statoil’s Arctic Race’ from the side of the rig. The environmental group wants a ban on oil drilling in the Arctic and has launched a worldwide petition attracting the support of more than five million people.
Ben Ayliffe, Greenpeace International Arctic campaigner said: “The Arctic matters to us all and protecting it demands a truly global response. We cannot let a reckless club of international oil companies hunt for the last drops as the ice melts away.”
Statoil said it “respects the right for legal protests” and has had a “dialogue” with Greenpeace over the last few months.
It added: “Greenpeace has been explained the risk associated with actions against a rig in open waters. When they still use this form of protest we believe they act irresponsibly and illegally.”
The energy giant said the Hoop area has been through an impact assessment, adding: “An oil spill is very unlikely but at the same time we have put in place a number of barriers to be able to handle a situation should it occur.”
Dutch police are said to have arrested six Greenpeace activists at another rig, the GSP Saturn, after it was occupied by 30 protestors and chained to the dock. The rig was contracted by Russia’s state energy firm Gazprom on its way to the remote Pechora Sea.