Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pechora Sea

Two Greenpeace activists scaled a Gazprom oil platform in the Russian Arctic in an attempt to stop the first world oil drilling in the Arctic and Pechora Sea.  

Greenpeace Argentina reports that, at 4:30 A.M. Moscow time, September 18, 2013, five of the environmental group's famed rubber boats departed from the Greenpeace flagship, Arctic Sunrise, heading for the oil platform Prirazlomnaya.  One boat was stopped by the Russian coast guard, at which point, two activists were arrested.  The coast guard sent more personnel who then demanded to board the Arctic Sunrise "for an inspection."

Meanwhile, other boats managed to make it to the rig, at which point, two other activists began their climb, intending to board and stay there as long as possible.

At the time of this posting, and the last report via Greenpeace Argentina on twitter, the activists appeared to have completely scaled the rig and the Arctic Sunrise was still in the area as a support ship, with the coast guard still demanding to board "for an inspection."

Sini Saarela, a Greenpeace activist who scaled the same platform a year ago, emphasized the imminent danger posed by oil drilling in the Arctic, and in a highly fragile and unique ecosystem that is home for polar bears and many other species.  

"[...] I went into action," she said, "to draw a line in the ice and just tell the oil companies."

 Greenpeace Campaign to make the arctic a global sanctuary

The Russian state oil company Gazprom plans to operate the Prirazlomnaya platform during the first quarter of 2014, dramatically increasing the risk of oil spills in an area containing three nature reserves protected by Russian law .

The company recently signed an agreement with Shell to drill oil in the Russian Arctic. Mauro Fernandez, a member of the Greenpeace Arctic campaign, said that Shell is now considered one of the most negligent companies in the industry, already having made grave errors working in the region and taking advantage of weak Russian regulations.  

"The oil companies are running out of options," he said, "and desperate to squeeze every last drop of oil on the planet, regardless of the consequences.  We cannot allow this to happen." 

On Shell:


Greenpeace launched the Save the Arctic campaign over a year ago, and already has the support of 4 million people globally in demanding that the uninhabited area around the North Pole is declared a protected region by the United Nations, banning oil drilling and industries destructive to that location.

On twitter, Greenpeace Argentina said, "They can arrest us, but they cannot stop us.  Save the Arctic.  There are 4 million of us."  The campaign is passing this petition, asking for more signatures to declare a global sanctuary in the Arctic.

Photo credit/bottom, The Guardian, photographer:  Denis Sinyakov/Reuters, Greenpeace activist in a polar bear suit during a Red Square protest in Moscow, as part of the Save the Arctic campaign launch.

Editor's Update, 9/18/2013:  Greenpeace reports the activists who climbed the rig arrested on the platform and now held on the coast guard vessel.  More in the tweets below:

More here from Greenpeace International, the organization confirming that 11 shots were fired across the vessel Arctic Sunrise.  Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign says,

“Employing this level of force against a peaceful protest ship is completely disproportionate and should stop immediately. It’s clear that oil companies receive special protection from the Russian authorities, who seem more interested in silencing peaceful activists than protecting the Arctic from reckless companies like Gazprom. 
“Let’s be absolutely clear about this: the real threat to the Arctic comes not from Greenpeace International but from oil companies like Gazprom that are determined to ignore both science and good sense to drill in remote, frozen seas.”

Editor's update, 9.19.2013:

Greenpeace activist Camila Speziale is now released and has posted an account of incidents here.  A slideshow of the Greenpeace Gazprom action here where you can see one individual brandishing a knife at the activists, and another holding them at gunpoint.

At this time, according to information shared on twitter, two other activists are still in Russian custody, with the Arctic Sunrise around the same location.  Authorities have stopped demanding boarding "for an inspection."

Greenpeace Argentina has released the following video on the Gazprom action.

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