Greenpeace Occupies Gazprom Oil Rig in Russian Arctic - 27 August, 2012.
MOSCOW, Russia (ENS) – A team of six
Greenpeace International activists, led by Executive Director Kumi Naidoo,
boarded Gazprom’s ‘Prirazlomnaya’ Arctic oil platform early this morning to
demand that the Russian company abandon its Arctic drilling plans.
4am local time the activists set off in three inflatable speedboats from the
Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and scaled the platform via mooring lines. They
are perched in various locations on the platform, interrupting operations. They
have hung a banner reading, “Don’t Kill the Arctic”.
activists say they are out of reach and have enough supplies to last for
Speaking from a “portaledge” slung below the platform, Naidoo
said, “We climbed Gazprom’s rusting oil platform backed by over a million
people who have joined a new movement to protect the Arctic. We are here on
their behalf. We are also standing shoulder to shoulder with the Russian
Indigenous Peoples, who just last week signed a joint statement opposing
offshore oil drilling in this area, which is near their traditional territory.”
an open letter to the Russian people posted today on the Greenpeace website,
Naidoo wrote, “Just last week Greenpeace Russia uncovered a startling secret:
the emergency plan for oil spill mitigation of Gazprom Neft Shelf, a Gazprom
subsidiary, has expired, meaning any drilling they do here would be illegal
under Russian legislation.”
expiration means that the Gazprom platform is operating without an official oil
spill response plan. Gazprom’s response plan was approved in July 2007 for a period
of exactly five years. The Russian Ministry of Emergency admitted to Greenpeace
in a letter that a new spill plan has been neither submitted nor approved.
Shell’s reckless plans to drill in Alaska, it’s not a question of if an oil
spill will happen, but when,” Naidoo said. “The only way to prevent a
catastrophic oil spill from happening in this unique environment is to
permanently ban all drilling now.”
energy giant Gazprom plans to begin full commercial drilling operations by
early next year, becoming the first company to start commercial oil production
in the offshore Arctic.
Russia told the Russian news agency Itar-Tass that water cannons are being used
against the activists.
helicopters landed on Prirazlomnaya during the action. It is possible their
passengers would detain the activists. Meanwhile, oil rig personnel are trying
to wash the activists off the rig. The activists say they hold the ground but
they are wet and cold,” said a Greenpeace Russia spokesperson.
Prirazlomnaya oil rig personnel have prepared rescue equipment in case the
Greenpeace activists on the rig need help, the rig manufacturer, Sevmash
defense shipyard in Severodvinsk, told Itar-Tass.
Gazprom spokesperson told the news agency, “They were offered to climb to the
oil rig deck for a constructive conversation but they refused to do that.”
my time in Moscow last week,” wrote Naidoo in his open letter, “I met with the
Federal Minister of Environment and Natural Resources and his senior advisers.
I met with several journalists and civil society activists, and had the
privilege of speaking with Indigenous Peoples representatives on whose
traditional territory much of Russia’s onshore oil drilling is carried out,
with disastrous results.”
“Together with Greenpeace Russia, we presented data from esteemed
Russian scientists, the same ones often hired by the oil industry, that
confirmed those fears: Gazprom and emergency services could not cope with an
oil spill disaster here.”
scientists calculated 60,000 different scenarios if an oil spill were to occur
at this platform, and their research showed very clearly that in fact it would
take the company days to mount a serious response. Meanwhile, the toxic oil
would reach the shores of three protected wildlife and nature reserves in just
20 hours,” Naidoo wrote.
wrote, “I took part in this peaceful action today to declare – together with
Russians and citizens around the world – an end to the madness that is putting
the profits of an elite few above the interests and safety of the rest of us.”
Prirazlomnoye field was discovered in 1989 in the shallow Pechora Sea
in Russia’s northwest. The field is located on a shelf 60 kilometers (40
miles) off the shore of the Varandey settlement at the water depth
of about 20 meters (65 feet).
says the Prirazlomnoye field contains 72 million tons of oil
reserves, from which the company hopes to achieve an annual production
level of 6.6 million tons.
Arctic is one of the most extreme and hostile environments to drill for oil on
the planet, Greenpeace says. “The Gazprom drill site is covered by thick sea
ice for nearly two-thirds of the year, whilst temperatures as low as -50˚C are
not uncommon. The Pechora Sea is often battered by fierce storms and during the
long northern winter is plunged into months of almost total darkness.”
such extreme conditions, Gazprom has released only a summary of its oil spill
response plan to the public, the activists point out, warning, “Yet even this
document shows that the company would be completely unprepared to deal with an
accident in the Far North, and would rely on substandard clean-up methods, such
as shovels and buckets, that simply do not work in icy conditions.”
a South African who has headed Greenpeace International since 2009, said, “This
threat affects us all. In my home country of South Africa we are now facing a
far more dangerous climate because companies like Gazprom and Shell are pumping
money into politics and blocking clean alternatives so that they can extract
the last drops of oil left. We’re here in the Arctic to draw a line in the ice
and say ‘you come no further.’”
27 August, 2012.