Greenpeace activists scale the Polar Pioneer drill rig in the Pacific Ocean.

Six Greenpeace climbers have intercepted an Arctic-bound Shell oil rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 750 miles north-west of Hawaii and have scaled the 38,000 tonne platform.

At dawn this morning, the six, from the USA, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and Austria, sped towards the Polar Pioneer, which Shell intends to use to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, in inflatable boats launched from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace)
Early on Monday morning the six Greenpeace protesters, from the USA, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and Austria, sped towards the Polar Pioneer in inflatable boats launched from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace)

Shell Seeks Court Order to Remove Greenpeace Activists

Attorneys for Royal Dutch Shell PLC has filed a complaint in federal court in Alaska, seeking an order to remove the six Greenpeace activists who on Monday climbed aboard an oil rig in the Pacific Ocean bound for the Arctic.

This is reported by the news agency Associated Press.

The boarding of the Polar Pioneer drill rig is a protest against Shell’s plans for oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, and the team of six protesters arrived in inflatable boats launched from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza.

The Arctic-bound Shell drill rig were at the time located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, approximately 750 miles north-west of Hawaii. The rig is being transported on a long heavy-lift vessel, and is one of two drilling vessels heading towards the Arctic for Shell this year.

Last week the United States Departement of Interior approved Shell’s drilling lease for the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic. According to Greenpeace this means that Shell could begin drilling in the area in about 100 days.

Fears of major oil spill

Conservation groups oppose Arctic offshore exploratory drilling, saying oil companies have not demonstrated that they can clean up a major spill in harsh conditions far from deep-water ports, major airports and other resources that could be of use in a spill.

According to the Spokeswoman for Shell in the USA, Kelly Op De Weegh, the oil company seeks an immediate end to the illegal boarding and any such actions in the future.

– These acts are far from peaceful demonstrations, she said in an email. 

– Boarding a moving vessel on the high seas is extremely dangerous and jeopardizes the safety of all concerned, including both the people working aboard and the protestors themselves.

  These acts are far from peaceful demonstrations," she said in an email.

- Boarding a moving vessel on the high seas is extremely dangerous and jeopardizes the safety of all concerned, including both the people working aboard and the protestors themselves.

The court complaint seeks an injunction that applies to all vessels and aircraft associated with proposed Alaska offshore exploration in transit to the United States, in port, and on the way to lease areas.

The Polar Pioneer left Malaysia in early March for staging in Seattle.

Still waiting for approval

According to Associated Press Shell has not obtained final approval for all of the permits needed for Alaska drilling during the open-water season, which would begin sometime after July 1.

Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA executive director, states that the injunction request is Shell's latest attempt to keep people from standing up for the Arctic:

-  Shell wants activists off its rig. We want Shell out of the Arctic.

Leonard points at Shell’s problems in 2012, which included the grounding of a drill rig as it was towed across the Gulf of Alaska. This, she said, showed that Shell cannot be trusted to drill in the Arctic.

Greenpeace USA has the right to peacefully protest Shell's "attempts to destroy the Arctic" and to let the public know about them, Leonard said.

 

Hot target in a cold climate

Greenpeace also targeted Shell before the company drilled in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas three years ago. In February 2012 activists from the organization boarded the Arctic-bound Noble Discoverer while it was in port in New Zealand. A month later activists also boarded two Shell-leased ice-breakers in Helsinki, Finland.

Shell later obtained a federal court injunction in Anchorage that ordered Greenpeace USA to stay away from its drill rigs destined for the Arctic through October 2012.

Today Royal Dutch Shell in in advanced talks to buy BG Group, in what could be the first oil super-merger since the early 2000s, to extend its global lead in gas production and close the gap with the world’s biggest oil major U.S. ExxonMobil.

Shell, who is Europe's largest oil company, has approximately 94.000 employees in over 70 countries. The company produces about 3.1 million barrels of oil every day, and last year Shell had sales of 421.1 billion U.S dollars, slightly less than the year before.

The company’s headquarters are in The Hague, the Netherlands, and the Chief Executive Officer is Ben van Beurden. The parent company of the Shell group is Royal Dutch Shell plc, which is incorporated in England and Wales.

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