-This is what oil company “protection” looks like in the Arctic
Arctic activists from Greenpeace International climbing Prirazlomnaya as Russian Coast Guard intervenes. (Photo: Denis Sinyakov/Greenpeace)
Activists from the environmental organization Greenpeace International have climbed Gazprom’s oil drilling platform Prirazlomnaya in the Pechora Sea to stop it from becoming the first company to produce oil from the region.
Two climbers were arrested and the Russian Coast Guard fired warning shots across Greenpeace’s ship. –This is what oil company “protection” looks like in the Arctic, the organization writes on its Twitter account.
Five inflatable boats were launched from the Greenpeace ship “Arctic Sunrise” in the early morning hours today and headed for the Prirazlomnaya platform, which the owner Gazprom says is now ready to start drilling. One of the inflatables was confronted by the Russian Coast Guard, and two activists were arrested. Two other activists managed to attach themselves to the oil platform, but were forces to climb down after been hosed with freezing water, Greenpeace reports.
Crew members of the “Arctic Sunrise” reported that a total of 11 warning shots were fired across the ship and the Coast Guard has threatened to fire at the ship itself if it did not leave the area immediately.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) confirmed that the border guards had fired warning shots “due to the genuine threat to the security of the Russian oil and gas complex, and failure to obey a lawful order to stop illegal activity.” The coast guard fired warning shots from an AK-47 machine gun, the security service said, noting that the Greenpeace ship did not respond to the warning and that additional measures to stop the vessel were underway, RIA Novosti reports.
Greenpeace International activist Sini Saarela was one of the activists climbing the platform. She said: “This rusty oil platform is an Arctic disaster waiting to happen. We’re hundreds of miles away from emergency response vessels or independent observers, but right next to a pristine Arctic environment that’s home to polar bears, walruses and rare seabirds.”
Greenpeace staged a similar protest at the same platform last year, with six activists scaling the side of the rig and dangling for several hours, displaying a banner reading “Don’t Kill the Arctic.”
More recently, the Arctic Sunrise made headlines at the end of August when it attempted to enter Arctic waters through the Northern Sea Route to stage a protest on oil exploration in the area.
Russia rejected Greenpeace’s applications for entrance to the Arctic and blocked the ship when it attempted the voyage, citing a lack of classification for its ice-faring capabilities. Greenpeace claimed the “Arctic Sunrise” had a higher ice classification than oil exploration vessels already operating in the area, and called the decision “a thinly veiled attempt to stifle peaceful protest and keep international attention away from Arctic oil exploration in Russia.”