Standoff at Statoil’s Arctic drillhole continues

Greenpeace intends to hinder Statoil from drilling the world's northernmost ever well.

Statoil has got the Norwegian government’s blessing for the establishment of a ”security zone” around its controversial Apollo well in the Barents Sea. Greenpeace says the zone is illegal and that it intends to continue its blockade of the area.


Activists from Greenpeace continue to challenge Statoil in the northern part of the Barents Sea. The organization on Tuesday boarded the Transocean rig. The authorities on Thursday responded by removing 15 activitst from the rig and subsequently announced that a ”security zone” was being established in the area.

As previously reported, the Apollo structure is located at the 74th latitude and will be the northernmost well ever drilled.

According to the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy the security zone will stretch over a 500 meter radius around the well. The zone is temporary and will have effect until a permanent zone is established, the ministry said.

Greenpeace argues that the security zone is illegal. According to the organization, this kind of zones can only be established with a 30-day in advance warning. The activists are now moving its ship, the ”Esperanza”, to the drill site thus preventing the rig to get access.

”There is now reason why Esperanza should give way to the oil company because of the sudden establishment of a security zone”, a press release from Greenpeace states. ”We have the same right as the oil companies to be here”, Daniels Simons, the organiztion’s expert on international law says.

International maritime law states that foreign ships have full freedom of navigation in the Norwegian economic zone.

When Greenpeace in August 2012 staged a similar campaign against Gazprom Neft’s oil drilling in the Pechora Sea, they were met by brute force from Russian law enforcement authorities. The activitists, the “Arctic 30”, were put in jail and charged with piracy allegations. They were released after several weeks of heavy international pressure against Russia.