Greenpeace activists this (Tuesday 27 May) morning boarded two oil rigs in an attempt to disrupt their planned deployment to areas within the Arctic Circle.
A group of 30 activists in the Dutch port of IJmuiden occupied the GSP Saturn, a jackup rig contracted by Russia’s state owned energy company Gazprom on its way to the remote Pechora sea. They were removed after five hours and six activists remain under arrest, said Greenpeace.
Another group of 15 activists occupied the Transocean Spitsbergen, 300km offshore and under contract to Norway’s state-owned company Statoil, said Greenpeace. The rig was en-route to drill the Apollo prospect in the Hoop area in the Barents Sea.
Update: The activists on board the Transocean Spitsbergen are now in the hands of Norwegian police, Statoil said, May 29.
The firm said: "Statoil is very pleased that the illegal action on the rig now has ended without anyone being injured. The rig will now prepare for transit to the drilling site for the Apollo well in the Hoop area. Statoil has a permit to start the drilling operations, but awaits a final decision on a Greenpeace appeal to the Norwegian Ministry of climate and environment before drilling into oil-bearing layers."
Statoil plans to drill three wells in the Hoop area this summer; on the Apollo, Atlantis and Mercury prospects. Drilling is scheduled for the period from late May to September.
In an earlier statement, Statoil said: "Statoil respects the right for legal protests and believes it is important with a democratic debate on the oil and 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.
"For Statoil the safety of people and the environment is the first priority, and we do not want 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."
Statoil says the Hoop area has been through an impact assessment and has been opened for petroleum activity by Norwegian authorities.
The Wisting discovery was made in the area last year. OMV discovered up to 164MM bo recoverable in the Wisting Central exploration well 7324/8-1, within the Hoop-Maud Basin in the Barents Sea. Read more: OMV make Wisting discovery
Statoil says: "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.>
The Transocean Spitsbergen rig is owned by Transocean and on contract to Statoil.