Greenpeace rig activists arrested
Published 04/06/2011 | 11:52
A group of activists who had climbed aboard an oil exploration rig in Arctic waters as part of an ongoing protest against drilling have been arrested.
Greenpeace said 18 activists climbed onto the Leiv Eiriksson rig off the coast of Greenland, to demand details of how the operator would respond to any oil spill.
Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy said drilling was suspended after the protesters breached a restricted area on the rig.
But 14 of the activists were removed on Saturday afternoon, while the remaining four had locked themselves in a crane cockpit, before they too were removed.
The group launched from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza in five inflatable speedboats from outside a 500 metre exclusion zone set up by Danish authorities. It is believed at least six of the activists are UK nationals.
Campaigner Ben Ayliffe said that because Cairn Energy is "hiding" its oil spill response plan, they had decided to go to "the one place there must be a copy of it".
He said: "Experts say the freezing temperatures and remote location mean a deep water blow-out in this stunning pristine environment would be an irreversible disaster.
"If they published the plan, the dangers of investing in such a high risk venture would be laid bare. We have to draw a line in the ice and stop the Arctic oil rush."
Cairn announced this week that it had begun drilling in two wells in the region. The wells are approximately 100 miles and 185 miles off Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. Each drilling operation is in water deeper than 2,953ft (900m).
Cairn has asked a court in the Netherlands to legally prevent Greenpeace from disrupting any future deep-sea drilling operations. In a statement, the company said: "The incident aboard the Leiv Eiriksson has ended peacefully. All 18 protesters are being dealt with by the Greenland authorities. Cairn respects the rights of individuals and organisations to express their views in a safe and peaceful manner but would be concerned with any action that presents a risk to the safety of people and/or equipment."