Greenpeace activists released following arrest over protest in Norway

4 people in kayaks in front of Statoil’s rig, the Songa Enabler. Image source: Greenpeace

Greenpeace has informed that its 35 activists and its Arctic Sunrise ship have been released following last week’s arrest in Norway.

The Norwegian Coast Guard last Thursday boarded the Arctic Sunrise and arrested the ship and the crew at Statoil’s Korpfjell drill site in the Barents Sea, after Greenpeace’s protest against Statoil’s drilling in the Arctic. Apart from Statoil’s drilling, the activists were also protesting against the Norwegian government’s granting of oil licenses “in violation of Norway’s Constitution and the Paris Agreement.”

The crew and the Greenpeace have been released in Tromsø, Northern Norway.

Six activists have been fined for breaching the safety zone around the semi-submersible drilling rig, Songa Enabler, on Thursday.

“Greenpeace considers the arrest by the Norwegian authorities to be unlawful as the protest was carried out in an area, where the activists have a right to protest peacefully in connection with the right of freedom of navigation and none of the grounds for boarding a foreign flagged vessel under international law were present. Greenpeace believes the action was important and necessary to highlight the Norwegian government’s granting of licenses for Statoil’s irresponsible drilling program,” the conservation group added.

“The activists stand for what they did and are facing the consequences. They have acted peacefully and with the urgency necessary to protect the global climate that the Norwegian government is right now putting at risk with reckless oil drilling in the Arctic. This new aggressive search for oil is a violation of Norway’s Constitution and a completely backwards decision while the rest of the world is agreeing to phase out fossil to reduce global warming,” said Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway.

“I am happy that we managed to expose the Norwegian government’s true face behind the self-proclaimed image as a green frontrunner. We protested peacefully with the support of hundreds of thousands people to make it clear that the Norwegian government is making a historic mistake with the opening of a new oil frontier. They know that more oil extraction will fuel extreme weather events like typhoons and droughts, so it’s about time they set people’s lives and health higher than short term oil profits,” said Austrian activist Dalia Kellou.

Greenpeace said it would continue to oppose Arctic drilling.

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. As such, Greenpeace alleged, the license is subject to a lawsuit filed together Nature & Youth last October and scheduled for hearing in November.

“The next battle will be fought in the courtroom through a climate lawsuit brought against the Norwegian government for handing out new Arctic oil licenses. Greenpeace Nordic and Nature and Youth will meet the Norwegian government in court on 14th November, arguing that the new oil licenses are a violation of the right to a safe and healthy environment as stated in the Norwegian Constitution (Article 112), also safeguarded for future generations as well as the Paris Agreement,” Greenpeace said.

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. The Korpfjell well is the northernmost oil operation ever in Norway.

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. It’s unclear whether the Greenpeace protest has impacted the drilling schedule.

 

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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