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Shell Faces Greenpeace Protesters Over Arctic Drilling Risks

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Published: Apr 7, 2015 at 9:36 am EST

In a protest yesterday, Greenpeace activists climbed a Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) oil rig, which was being transported to Seattle before being moved to the Arctic.

The Polar Pioneer oil rig on its way to a vessel called Blue Merlin was ascended by six Greenpeace activists after they followed it during its journey across the Pacific Ocean, as confirmed by a statement from Greenpeace. The activists – from Australia, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria, and the US – climbed the vessel more than 700 miles off the coast of Hawaii, using climbing lines. The organization has confirmed that the activists will not interrupt the navigation or other operations of the vessel.

One of the activists, Aliyah Field, is providing updates on the situation from atop the drilling rig. “We made it! We’re on Shell’s platform. And we’re not alone. Everyone can help turn this into a platform for people power!” Ms. Field tweeted around 1:00PM EST, under her handle @aliyahfield. She has gathered huge support and has expressed her gratitude through tweets.

A news report by Bloomberg cited Shell’s emailed statement. The company believes the protestors illegally climbed the oil rig; endangering their safety and that of the vessel’s crew.

According to an official statement by Shell, the company has met with organizations and individuals opposing its exploration program in Alaska, scheduled for this summer. “We respect their views and value the dialogue,” said Shell. “We will not, however, condone the illegal tactics employed by Greenpeace. Nor will we allow those stuns to distract from preparations under way to execute a safe and responsible exploration program,” the company added in the statement.

Furthermore, the US Coast Guards have been informed about the situation.

The European oil giant plans to explore the Chukchi Sea in the coming months as the region could hold as much as 15 billion barrels of oil, according to estimates by the US Geological Survey. Environmental groups are opposing Shell’s plans to conduct offshore oil exploration and production in Arctic, as the weather conditions make the drilling activities highly risky – with a significantly greater chance of an oil spill.

When Shell attempted to resume operations in Alaska in 2012, the company faced several accidents. An emergency system failed a simple deployment test; leading to increased concerns over the emergency system’s performance in rough and harsh conditions of the icy Arctic.

While Shell’s drilling rigs are already on their way to the drilling site, they still require approval and clearance from the government.


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