Activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise have entered the exclusion zone of Statoil’s drilling rig Songa Enabler in the Barents Sea with kayaks and inflatable boats, while swimmers are in the waters protesting with hand banners.
According to the environmental organization’s statement on Thursday, the activists are there to deliver this message “Put People over Arctic Oil” to the Norwegian government.
Greenpeace said that 35 activists from 25 countries are escalating a peaceful protest after tailing the rig for one month in the Barents Sea.
Statoil is using the Songa Offshore-owned Cat D drilling rig Songa Enabler to drill the Korpfjell well in production license 859, which was awarded in the 23rd licensing round in 2016. The Norwegian state-owned oil company received a permit from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) to drill the well back in July. The directorate said the drilling at the Korpfjell prospect would last from July 28 to August 20. The consent to use the Cat D rig was received earlier, in late June.
The drilling site is in the northern sector of the Barents Sea South-East area, 37 kilometers from the Russian boundary and 415 kilometers from the Norwegian mainland. Water depth at the site is 253 meters.
‘Norway not as green as their image’
Greenpeace claims that the drilling site is close to the ice edge and an important feeding areas for seabirds. “This is the first opening of new areas for oil drillings in 20 years and it is the northernmost area licensed by Norway,” the organization said.
Greenpeace Norway Arctic campaigner, Erlend Tellnes, from on board the Arctic Sunrise, said: “Norway is not as green as their image.”
Tellnes further added: “They ignore and disrespect environmental, scientific recommendations and have offered the oil industry licenses in some of the most pristine areas of the Arctic. Now they have to answer for their actions in court.”
Tellnes was referring to a lawsuit against the Norwegian government, which is arguing that the new oil licenses violated both the Paris Climate Agreement and paragraph 112 of the Norwegian Constitution, which commits the government “to safeguard the people’s right to a clean and healthy environment for future generations.” The hearing is scheduled for November 14.
This is not the first time for Greenpeace to try and stop Statoil from drilling in the Barents Sea. Back in July, the Songa Enabler rig had an encounter with eleven activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. The activists were joined by actress Lucy Lawless, known for her role in the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess. At the time, the Songa Enabler had its sights set on the Gemini Nord license.
The Korpfjell well might be one of Statoil’s last chances for a major discovery in this year’s Barents Sea drilling campaign. Statoil’s previous wells, Blåmann, Kayak, and Gemini North, were a bit of a disappointment. Namely, the first one was a small gas discovery, the second one was an oil discovery totaling between 25 and 50 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalents, and the third one aimed for oil but made a small, non-commercial, gas discovery.
Once the rig completes its operations on the Korpfjell well, it is scheduled to drill the Koigen well from August 22 until September 17.
Offshore Energy Today Staff; Images by Greenpeace