Greenpeace activists scaled a Gazprom oil platform in the Arctic on Friday. Suspended by cables, they were protesting Russian oil drilling in the region. The stunt saw them tentatively dangling from the sides of the rig for hours.
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 come from Canada, Finland, Germany, and the US, and include the director of Greenpeace international, Kumi Naidoo.
The activists were 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 said the climbers had 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."
The action came to an end after 15 hours of deadlock. The activists accused platform workers of hosing them with water icy water whilst suspended. They also saw two Russian Coast Guard helicopters, which, reports say, had been dispatched to detain the activists.
“We have retreated, but we are not giving in,” reads their statement at Greenpeace’s website.
Greenpeace plans to lobby the UN to declare the Arctic a global sanctuary, in order to prevent oil drilling in the area. But Piers Corbyn, the director of WeatherAction.com, says this is not an achievable goal for the environmental group.
“They have no chance to succeed because the world needs oil. Oil could be taken from almost anywhere as long as there are proper safeguards against pollution. With modern technology, all that is possible. They ought to be lobbying for proper safeguards,” Piers told RT. “But they won’t do that because they don’t believe in a world expanding economy. They want to compress the world’s economy and hold back the production of carbon dioxide.”
Watch RT’s interview with Piers Corbyn