Greenpeace argues that the drilling threatens ecosystems in the area, and first of all the vulnerable environment of the Bear Island. The far northern island is known for its rich bird colonies and animal life.
Greenpeace activists from eight countries climbed the “Transocean Spitsbergen” rig, owned by Transocean, in the early morning hours, hung banners like ‘No Arctic Oil’ and ‘Stop Statoil’s Arctic Race’, and said they were prepared to stay on the rig for days.
“This drilling is completely irresponsible,” Greenpeace’s Arctic Adviser Erlend Tellnes says to NRK. He explains that an oil spill here could reach the wildlife sanctuary on Bear Island in less than a week. The environmental organization is also backed by new research from the Norwegian Polar Institute, which concludes that the average extension of the polar ice edge the last 30 years has been located close to the drill site.
The activists include 32 year old Sini Saarela from Finland, who spent over two months in Russian prison for climbing Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya rig in the Pechora Sea in September last year.
-Irresponsible and illegal Public Relation Manager in Statoil Ørjan Heradstveidt respects the right to legal protests against the company’s drilling activities and believes it is important with a democratic discussion around oil activity.
“But this action we is both illegal and irresponsible. They have boarded a rig in open sea, which is not without risk,” he says to NRK.
Statoil believes an oil spill in this area is unlikely, and that measures have been taken to be able to handle such an incident
The drilling operation is to be conducted in the Hoop area at 74 degrees north, about 175 km east of the Bear Island. The well will be the world’s northernmost ever drilled.
“For us it is important to remind that an environmental impact assessment of the Hoop area has been made and that it has been opened for exploration by Norwegian authorities.” We have robust plans for the operations,” Heradstveit adds.