Greenpeace makes move on Arctic drillers

B. McPherson

Greenpeace activists made a couple of bold moves this week in their efforts to save the Arctic from oil pollution. They have boarded two vessels that were on their way to drill during the short Arctic summer.

The drill rig GSP Saturn was boarded when it was in a Netherlands harbour, preventing its departure to drill for the Russian firm Gazprom. You may remember that when the Greenpeace activists attempted to board a drill rig once it was drilling in the Arctic, they were arrested and their ship was impounded. Many were kept in questionable circumstances until Russian president Putin pardoned them just before the Winter Olympics and just before seizing the Crimean Peninsula. This time, the move was made in Europe where the courts are more hospitable to defenders of the environment.

The other vessel boarded was the Norwegian Transocean Spitsbergen owned by Statoil. It is stationed in the Barents Sea.

It is believed that a bonanza of oil lies beneath the Arctic Ocean. While the area is claimed by a number of northern countries, some boundary disputes remain. We have become too familiar with massive oil spills in tropical and semi-tropical waters. The warmer waters support microbes that will eventually break down the petroleum. The case is not the same in cold water and the colder the water the slower the natural cleaning effect. The Exxon Valdes spilled its cargo in the cold Alaskan waters more than 20 years ago and great globs of oil remain under shore rocks. The frigid Arctic would probably have to wait thousands of years to self clean. The fragile life doesn’t have thousands of years to cope with an oil spill.

The US has halted drilling by Dutch Royal Shell after courts ruled that the area of Beaufort and Chukchi Seas were illegally opened to drilling. Shell is into the Arctic for $5 billion to date with little to show for it but some embarrassing mishaps. Politicians there are split between saving the environment and achieving energy independence. The energy independence argument is used for the rationale to frack for natural gas in the lower 48 states. Much of that natural gas is now compressed and exported.

To show the Greenpeace Organization your support for their work, you can sign their petition to stop Arctic drilling here:


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