Only two weeks after boarding the Transocean Spitsbergen rig on its way to drill a well in the Barents Sea, Greenpeace has a new target. This time it is the West Alpha semi-submersible rig.
In a statement issued on their website, the environmental organisation said that their ship Esperanza has entered the fjord in Olen near Haugesund, where the drilling rig West Alpha is being prepared for “an extreme oil drilling in the Arctic.”
Greenpeace said it was extremely concerned about the safety and asked that the project be shelved.
“We come straight from the Barents Sea where we spent 90 hours protesting against Statoil drilling near Bear Island. Now we are here to draw attention to another extreme drilling projects planned in the Arctic this year: ExxonMobil drilling in the Russian Kara Sea,” says Erlend Tellnes , campaign director of Greenpeace and on board the Esperanza.
ExxonMobil is the world’s largest oil company and has a multi-billion dollar joint venture with Russia’s Rosneft to explore for oil in the Kara Sea, a project that will start this summer. According to Greenpeace, the drilling block where Exxon will operate overlaps with the legally protected Russian Arctic National Park, an area renowned for its magnificent wildlife.
The area is home to polar bears and bowhead whales and includes walrus rookeries and one of the largest bird colonies in the northern hemisphere. Greenpeace says that according to Russian law it is illegal to drill for oil in the area.
Greenpeace says that if an oil spill occurs in the area, neither ExxonMobil, nor the owner of the rig, Seadrill, can do anything to protect the fragile Arctic environment.
This is not the first time Greenpeace and the West Alpha meet. In March this year, on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, activists scaled the rig calling for a ban on offshore oil drilling in the Arctic and for renewed efforts to fight climate change.