Activists from Greenpeace successfully boarded an oil rig in the Norwegian Arctic yesterday. The protesters have made an attempt to interrupt exploration operation in the far north region. Norwegian police could not stop the activists because the drilling has not started. The Marshall islands registered Statoil drilling rig is located in international waters in the Barents Sea.
The Norwegian police issued a statement explaining the current situation:
"When the rig is in movement, it is considered a ship. When the rig begins to drill it is considered a rig on the Norwegian continental shelf. Then we can safeguard Norwegian oil and gas interests."
More information about what the police can do in future has not been revealed yet. The drilling rig is a property of the Norwegian state and a Norwegian CoastGuard vessel is located near the Statoil’s Arctic drilling rig. According to the Norwegian police, the Greenpeace activists' action is not legal.
Statoil, has been named 'Arctic aggressor' by Greenpeace after revealed plans for drilling in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea threaten Bear Island, a location known to be a home of rare species and occasionally to polar bears.
It is not known when Statoil will resume work. Company spokesman Oerjan Heradstveit said:
"We can’t say anything about when we could be up and running."
The Arctic drilling rig is owned by Transocean and was boarded early in the morning by the activists. The protesters climbed the rig and exposed banners such as 'No Arctic Oil', 'Stop Statoil’s Arctic Race'. The activists have declared that they could stay for many days on board the rig. Statoil is considering the actions of the protesters as very dangerous to themselves.
"Some of them have chained themselves underneath the deck. The temperature was 2 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) earlier today," said Statoil’s Heradstveit.
"They could fall in the water, under the propeller."
The protesters are refusing to leave the rig for the moment. Some weeks ago, Greenpeace activists made an attempt in Rotterdam to stop the first Russian oil delivery coming from the Prirazlomanaya oil platform in the Arctic Pechora Sea. Last year, the Russian platform was unsuccessfully boarded by Greenpeace protesters who were arrested by Russian military forces and were charged with piracy (this means a lot of years in jail). The Russian President Vladimir Putin later initiated an amnesty and the activists were released.