Greenpeace activists arrested after Barents Sea protest

The advocacy group managed to disrupt operations for Norwegian energy company Statoil briefly.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Aug. 18, 2017 at 9:09 AM
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Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace said they were able to disrupt operations at a Statoil rig drilling for oil in the Barents Sea.

A handful of Greenpeace activists left the Arctic Sunrise protest vessel on inflatable boats and kayaks to protest against drilling above the Arctic Circle. The group targeted a Statoil operation at its Korpfjell well, which the environmental group said was the northernmost drilling target to date.

"The activists halted the operation of the rig, and after several hours of demanding an end to the drilling in the Arctic, the Norwegian Coast Guard interfered with the peaceful protest, arresting the Arctic Sunrise ship, the activists and crew members," the advocacy group said in a statement.

Statoil moved the Songa Enabler rig to the Korpfjell prospect after making a minor gas discovery near the Hoop area in the Barents Sea early last week.

The Norwegian branch of Greenpeace last year joined regional advocate group Nature and Youth in a lawsuit that said decisions to open up the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea to energy companies violated the Paris climate agreement and national laws.

Oslo opened up parts of the Barents Sea during its 23rd licensing round. Article 112 of the country's constitution states that all citizens have a right to expect that natural resources be used in such a way as to preserve natural surroundings.

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy responded to the legal claim by saying the licensing round was undertaken in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.

When Greenpeace used the same protest vessel against Russian energy company Gazprom, the Kremlin said the action "had the appearance of extremist activity."

The environmental group claimed victory, however, when Statoil ended a campaign in the Hoop reserve area in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea. The Hoop reserve area is near Bear Island, a unique island ecosystem that Greenpeace said would be spoiled should a spill occur in the area.

Elsewhere, Greenpeace said it planned a protest Friday against JP Morgan Chase in Seattle, calling on the bank to divest from Canadian oil pipeline projects.

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