Greenpeace activists climb Russian Actic oil rig to protest drilling
August 24, 2012
Greenpeace activists are literally “hanging out” on a Gazprom oil platform in the Arctic. Suspended by cables from the rig, they are protesting the Russian Arctic oil-drilling campaign and making some new friends in the process.
In the early hours of Friday morning, workers on the “Prirazlomnaya” oil-drilling platform in the Pechora Sea awoke to quite a surprise outside their windows. Six activists from Greenpeace at ambushed the rig 4am Moscow time (00:00 GMT) with motor boats and mountain climbing gear, and proceeded to suspend themselves above the platform.
“Today representatives of Greenpeace violated the 500-meter navigational safety zone around the sea platform ‘Prirazlomnaya’, and with the aid of mountain climbing gear, ‘hung’ themselves overboard. They were offered to come aboard the platform in order to engage in a constructive dialogue. However, they refused, saying they ‘will hang on the platform’. All work on the platform is continuing according to plan” Gazprom, operator of the platform, said in a statement.
The six activists are from Canada, Finland, Germany, and the US, and include the director of Greenpeace international, Kumi Naidoo.
The activists are protesting Russia’s drilling of the arctic shelf. Naidoo told the Associated Press in a phone interview from over the side of the rig that “We’re here peacefully and we will continue to draw the attention of Russian people and people around the world to what’s happening there. It’s bad for Russia, it’s bad for the planet.”
Greenpeace has repeatedly protested oil drilling around the world, but this marks the first time they have actually gone “overboard” about it. Naidoo and his fellow cable-swingers have managed to hang a banner on the side of the rig that reads “Don’t kill the Arctic.”
The Russian Arctic drilling program is unique both due to its remote location and the difficulties it faces. The platform is a one-of-a-kind vessel specially built to drill in the Arctic. Russian environmental activists have warned that a potential oil spill in the Arctic would pose never- before-seen challenges due to the ice and weather, creating a potential major disaster.
The platform opened last year, and is preparing to drill its first well.
Greenpeace Russia has said the climbers have enough supplies to hang there for several days. However, the supplies may not be necessary. Naidoo told the AP that the platform workers “have been very friendly, engaging in conversations with us, asking where we come from and offering us soup.”
A Russian Coast Guard helicopter has been dispatched to detain the activists. Gazprom has said it will issue a full statement on the incident later.