Monday, August 23, 2010


A Danish warship has pulled alongside a Greenpeace ship protesting deep sea drilling by a British oil company Cairn in the arctic and is threatening to board the ship and arrest the captain.  The incident happened in the freezing seas off Greenland as the protest ship Esperanza approached one of the world's most controversial oil drilling projects operated by the British company Cairn Energy.

Cairn Energy is drilling two wells off the west coast of Greenland and plans to drill two more before the end of October.  The region is home to blue whales, polar bears, seals and migratory birds.

"To be here and see a huge drilling rig in this beautiful and fragile environment is deeply shocking," said activist Leila Deen, who is onboard the Esperanza, the Greenpeace ship.

Ben Stewart, also on board the Esperanza, said, "It seems crazy to us that the Arctic sea ice is melting, and the oil industry response is to start drilling here, rather than take melting sea ice as a warning about the huge risk to humanity from global warming."

London - A Greenpeace protest ship has been stopped by the Danish navy on the way to a oil rig in the Arctic, the environmentalist group said in London Monday.Denmark had threatened to storm the ship Esperanza and arrest its capitain if the ship crossed i
The Esperanza

As the naval action was going on scores of protesters converged on the headquarters of Cairn Energy and several other business during a day of action to protest against the funding of oil and gas industries by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The Bank headquarters was forced to shut down and send home its workers.

At the RBS's £335m headquarters in Gogarburn, around 500 campaigners spent the last four days gathering at the camp, which occupied two meadows inside the perimeter fence, mounting sporadic actions against RBS buildings over the weekend which led to a further 10 arrests and damage to six windows.

The Guardian reports today, "Eight protesters dressed in black took a fake pig dripping molasses to the headquarters of Cairn Energy, which has become the focus of environment protests over its drilling in the Arctic and its business dealings with the Indian mining company Vedanta.

Friends of the Earth Scotland attacked company for selling a large part of its Indian drilling operations to Vedanta, which has been widely accused of abusing human rights and the environment at a bauxite mine on Orissa.

The following is from Greenpeace UK.

Greenpeace in stand-off with warship at Arctic oil drill site

Greenpeace was today confronted by a Danish warship in the freezing seas off Greenland as the environmental group's protest ship ‘Esperanza' approached one of the world's most controversial oil drilling projects operated by the British company Cairn Energy.
The Greenpeace ship left London 12 days ago vowing to challenge the oil industry at the site of a dangerous deepwater drilling project in the wake of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, but didn't reveal its intended location until today when the ship arrived in the seas west of Disko Island in the Arctic.
The Danish government has sent the Vaedderen, a Thetis-class warship, to protect two drilling sites being operated by Britain's Cairn Energy. A special forces commando team was earlier dispatched to the Faroe Islands, where the Copenhagen government originally thought the Esperanza was headed. It is thought the Danish equivalent to navy SEALS have now been sent to the Cairn site and campaigners this morning reported seeing three navy inflatable boats in the waters around the rig.
The world's oil giants have been watching the $420m Cairn project with great interest. If the Edinburgh-based company strikes oil in the fragile environment west of Greenland analysts expect a new Arctic oil rush, with Exxon, Chevron and other energy giants already buying up licenses to drill in the area and making preparations to move in.
The stand-off between Greenpeace and the warship is in an area known as ‘iceberg alley'. Cairn is having to tow icebergs out of the rig's path or use water cannons to divert them. If the icebergs are too large the company has pledged to move the rig itself to avoid a collision. Last month a 260km2  ice island broke off the Petermann glacier north of Disko island. The region is also famous for its populations of blue whales, polar bears, seals and migratory birds.
Cairn Energy has pledged to drill a further two wells before the ‘summer window' closes at the end of September (1). The government of Greenland is refusing to release details of the company's spill response plan, seriously undermining the company's assurances on safety (2).
Campaigners say Cairn should abandon the risky drilling project immediately and consider investing in clean alternatives instead.
There is a 500m security zone surrounding each of the rigs. The Esperanza has been warned that the ship will be raided and the Captain arrested if the ship breaches that cordon. The Greenpeace ship is currently just outside the zone, while the Danish warship has positioned itself alongside the Esperanza.
Greenpeace campaigner Leila Deen is on the Esperanza:
"To see a huge drilling rig in this beautiful and fragile environment is deeply shocking. The tragic oil disasters in the Gulf and in China this year clearly illustrate the need to go beyond oil.  Companies like Cairn need to leave the Arctic alone and start developing the clean tools that will actually help us get off fossil fuels for good.
"Climate change is already having an impact on millions of people around the world but oil companies are completely ignoring the new reality we face. That's why we're here to deliver a message to them in person - go home now."
Greenpeace today released a briefing, found at the press centre which highlights some of the reasons why Arctic drilling is so dangerous. Points include:
  • The drilling season is short, and is ended by the arrival of the Arctic winter and a thickening of sea ice which makes drilling of primary or relief wells impossible.
  • A blowout in a scenario where a relief well cannot be completed in the same drilling season could lead to oil gushing until at least next spring (3), with spilt oil becoming trapped under sheets of thick ice.
  • The environmental consequences of a spill in the Arctic environment would be far more serious than in warmer seas such as the Gulf of Mexico.(4) Serious impacts of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska are still being felt over 20 years later.(5)
  • Baffin Bay [where the rig is drilling] is home to 80 to 90% of the world's Narwhals. The region is also home to blue whales, polar bears, seals, sharks, cormorants, kittiwakes and numerous other migratory birds.(6)
Tomorrow Cairn energy will announce its half yearly results at the company's headquarters in Edinburgh. The company is expected to reveal whether the first two wells it is currently drilling in Baffin Bay have been successful, as well as outlining plans to drill two new wells in the same area.
For more information including photos, video and interviews from the scene contact Greenpeace on 0207 865 8255

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