Some of the Greenpeace activist who boarded the Statoil-operated Transocean Spitsbergen drilling rig in Norway yesterday, have withdrawn from the rig.
While ten activists spent the night on the rig, five were flown to land by a helicopter, late Tuesday night, after deciding to cease their demonstration. Greenpeace said they are “now safe and in good spirits in Hammerfest, Norway.”
None of them were arrested.
“We are pleased that some of the activists have given up and have chosen to leave the rig voluntarily, but we are still concerned for the safety of those remaining on the rig. Greenpeace has gained the attention they generally seek, and we have encouraged them not to challenge safety any longer,” Statoil said.
“Statoil respects the right for legal protests and believes it is important with a democratic debate on the oil industry. Statoil has had a dialogue with Greenpeace over the last few months. We have informed about our exploration plans in the Barents Sea and the emergency response setup for the operations on several occasions, and Greenpeace has been given the opportunity to explain their views and ask questions,” the company added.
Meanwhile on the rig
Speaking from the rig, Elmer Vestidas, a Greenpeace Arctic activist from the Philippines said:
“I’ve spent a pretty cold night outside on this rig, but we Filipinos are tough. I’m here because Statoil’s risky project isn’t just a threat to Bear Island and the amazing wildlife we saw there. Typhoon Haiyan was one of the worst things that ever happened to my country, and unless we speed up the switch to clean technology these disasters will happen again and again.”
“Places like the Philippines and the Arctic are already on the frontline of climate change. This is an era defining battle, and I am honoured to be with this international group of activists to help win it.”
“For Statoil the safety of people and the environment is the first priority, and we do not want an activity that can increase the risk level. Greenpeace has been explained the risk associated with actions against a rig in open waters. When they still use this form of protest we believe they act irresponsibly and illegally.
We are concerned for the safety of the demonstrators who have made their way on board, and for the crew,” Statoil further said.
On Monday Statoil got approval from the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment to start drilling operations tied to the Apollo prospect in the Hoop area. The company is not allowed to drill into oil-bearing layers until the complaint from Greenpeace has been dealt with by the ministry.
“For us it is important to state that the Hoop area has been through an impact assessment and has been opened for petroleum activity by Norwegian authorities. Hoop is an area with known geology, low pressure and temperature, and where Statoil has robust plans for the operations. An oil spill is very unlikely, but at the same time we have put in place a number of barriers to be able to handle a situation should it occur,” Statoil added.
The rig is now about 300 kilometres offshore and there is a dialogue between the crew onboard the rig and the activists. The rig is owned by Transocean and is on contract to Statoil.