Greenpeace International has scrambled its Rainbow Warrior III ship for a mission to intercept a tanker carrying the first oil produced at an offshore drilling platform in Russia.
This will be the second time the environmental organization has hampered Russia’s plans to produce and sell Arctic oil.
The platform where this shipment originated was the scene of a Greenpeace protest last fall that saw 28 activists and two journalists, dubbed “the Arctic 30”, imprisoned for over two months by Russian authorities.
The Rainbow Warrior is setting out from the Netherlands and is captained by one of the detained members of the Arctic 30.
Last week President Vladmir Putin announced the shipment in an interview with Gazprom’s CEO. The announcement was met with concern and condemnation by some.
Greenpeace International oil campaigner, Ben Ayliffe said as reported by clickgreen.org.uk, “We must urgently shift away from fossil fuels towards more efficient, clean technologies. This is no longer a purely environmental imperative. It is increasingly crucial to our national security.”
“Buying the first shipment of offshore Arctic oil increases our dependence on Russian energy firms and only serves to strengthen President Putin’s hand in the geopolitical game he’s playing,” cautioned Ayliffe.
The tanker, Mikhail Ulyanov travelled through the Barents Sea and down the Norwegian coast and is set to arrive with its load in Rotterdam in the next few days.
Greenpeace released a statement Monday alleging French petroleum giant, Total, has bought the shipment from the Russian energy company, Gazprom in a move it calls hypocritical. The purchase was confirmed by an unnamed source in the company to the Agence France-Presse.
In 2012, Total CEO, Christophe de Margerie, said the Arctic region had been found too fragile for the company to drill there. By buying the oil from Gazprom, Total is able to avoid the risks, but still reap the financial benefits of drilling in the Arctic, says Greenpeace.
“Mr. De Margerie cannot have his cake and eat it,” commented Ayliffe.
Greenpeace said they wish to escort the tanker into the harbor at Rotterdam. It is not clear if the 23 members on board the Rainbow Warrior will attempt to board the Russian vessel or what other type of protest may be staged.
Greenpeace activist Patric Salize declined to specify, but did say, “I can assure you we will send a clear message to the world that this oil is very dangerous.”
Gazprom Neft has for the first time sent oil from Yamal along the northern Sea Route in winter conditions. 16.000 tons of crude oil was shipped to European consumers by oil tanker, escorted by a nuclear icebreaker.
Russia is prepared to protect its interests in the Arctic with military means if necessary, says Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu, pointing to the increasing interest in the region’s resources by countries with no direct access to the Arctic.
“Ship-to-ship reloading of oil in icy-waters outside Kirkenes is a great example that Norway jeopardizes nature by lowering safety standards in our race for industrialization of the north,” says Lars Haltbrekken, head of the Norwegian Society for the conservation of Nature.
The UK needs to up its game in the Arctic or risk being «outmaneuvered” by other states, and should start by appointing an ambassador to the region, according to a report by the House of Lords Arctic Committee.
Could the Northern Sea Route be suitable for shipment of fish from the Far East to the European parts of Russia and vice versa? Stake holders in Russia’s fisheries industry and fishery authorities believe so.
“Whatever the pressure, Rakurs will continue to support LGBT community, to provide legal and psychological help. And we are going to challenge this wrongful decision in the court,” says Tatiana Vinnichenko, head of the organization.