Greenpeace vessel seized following offshore drilling protest

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise was detained yesterday by Spanish authorities in the port of Arrecife, Lanzarote, following last Saturday’s protest by Greenpeace against oil drilling by Repsol, in the Canary Islands.

Mario Rodriguez, director of Greenpeace Spain, said: “The detention of the Arctic Sunrise violates the rights of all people who strive to defend the environment. It’s telling that the Spanish Government would so quickly support the interests of an oil company, Repsol, against a peaceful environmental organisation which stands alongside millions of people who oppose reckless oil exploration.”

According to Greenpeace, the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (Ministerio de Fomento) has detained the Arctic Sunrise, a ship operated by Greenpeace International, while an investigation is completed into the protest on 15 November. According to the environmental group, two of its activists were injured by the Spanish Navy.

The Spanish government has launched an investigation against the captain of the Arctic Sunrise, for an alleged “infringement against marine traffic rules”, punishable with a fine of up to 300,000 euros, Greenpeace has said.

To remind, Greenpeace had placed its Arctic Sunrise vessel at the exact spot where Repsol has plans to drill for oil using the Rowan Renaissance drillship, owned by Rowan Companies from Houston.

Pending the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings, the Spanish authorities have ordered the vessel to be held until a 50,000 euro bond is paid. The captain and crew have not been detained.

“Greenpeace finds this measure to be an unnecessary and disproportionate response to a peaceful protest against dangerous oil drilling. Greenpeace and its activists always take responsibility for their actions, but cannot accept a measure it considers to be unfair and an infringement on the right to peaceful protest and the right to a clean and healthy environment,” the environmental organization has said.

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