Greenpeace raids Russian Arctic oil platform

Aug 24, 2012 by Dmitry Zaks
Greenpeace activists board Gazprom's 'Prirazlomnaya' Arctic oil platform somewhere off Russia north-eastern coast in the Pechora Sea. A team of Greenpeace International activists - including Executive Director Kumi Naidoo - boarded the platform to demand that the Russian company abandon its dangerous Arctic drilling plans.

Greenpeace activists on Friday scaled the sides of an Arctic oil platform owned by Russian group Gazprom to draw attention to the dangers of drilling in one of the world's last pristine reserves.

Two helicopters hovered over the group and periodically sprayed them with pressurised streams of ice water as they hung down on ropes from the side of Gazprom's huge red Prirazlomnaya platform, due to start commercial operations next year.

"They're hosing us," Greenpeace International's Executive Director Kumi Naidoo tweeted, while the team held up bright yellow signs reading "Save the Arctic!" and "Stop Gazprom!"

Naidoo said he did not expect coast guards to reach the remote spot of the inhospitable sea until Saturday and posted pictures of the team setting up swinging tents in which they planned to spend the night and have dinner.

The daring raid comes as Russia takes the lead from other Arctic energy powers in exploiting previously untouched territory for what is believed to be one of the world's largest holdings of and natural gas.

Gazprom's independent project is due to kick off next year just as fellow state oil firm Rosneft begins its own initial explorations with new partner ExxonMobil.

The area—also the subject of territorial rows with resource rivals Canada and Norway—is becoming especially attractive as the size of the ice shelf shrinks and conflicts continue to rattle energy producers in the Middle East.

Greenpeace said its team reached Gazprom's floating production base by launching a pre-dawn sneak attack by inflatable speedboats from its ship Arctic Sunrise and then climbing aboard using mooring lines.

Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo (bottom) gives a thumbs up as he and other activists board Gazprom's 'Prirazlomnaya' Arctic oil platform somewhere off Russia north-eastern coast in the Pechora Sea. A team of Greenpeace International activists boarded the platform to demand that the Russian company abandon its dangerous Arctic drilling plans.

Footage shot by one of the crew showed the sea calm but draped in metallic clouds as the tiny bright orange craft sped through unguarded waters toward the towering crane-mounted station.

"Six climbers have taken up positions on the structure and have interrupted the platform's operations," the group said in a statement.

The state-owned firm immediately denied any impact on the platform's operations and said the activists had turned down an offer to enter the base for talks.

"They were invited aboard the platform for a constructive dialogue," a Gazprom spokesman told Russian news agencies.

"But they refused and said they would prefer to hang off the platform instead."

Gazprom next year will become the first company to start commercial drilling in the Arctic when it launches offshore operations in the southeastern section of the Barents Sea.

The holding's base runs just west of the developments being pursued jointly by ExxonMobil and Rosneft in an area viewed by the Kremlin as the main source of Russia's oil and gas in the new century.

But critics warn that Gazprom's drilling is extremely risky because the platform is sealed in ice for most of the year and has to work smoothly in temperatures that often plunge to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 Fahrenheit).

The Gazprom unit plans to drill and process oil before injecting it into tankers—operations that have never been performed in such an inhospitable climate before.

Critics say the risk of such work far outweighs the benefits it may offer either the Russian government or consumers through cheaper fuel.

"The Prirazlomnaya platform will produce no more than seven million tonnes of oil a year," Greenpeace Russia director Vladimir Chuprov told Moscow Echo radio.

"And the country needs to produce 500 million tonnes a year."

Explore further: US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Environmentalists warn of risks of Arctic drilling

Aug 14, 2012

(AP) — Environmental activists warned Tuesday that drilling for oil in the Russian Arctic could have disastrous consequences because of a lack of technology and infrastructure to deal with a possible ...

Putin unveils $500 bn offshore energy drive

Apr 12, 2012

Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to win $500 billion in investment for Russian offshore field development over 30 years to tap the country's full energy potential with the help of foreign expertise.

Greenpeace activists arrested on Arctic oil rig

Jun 05, 2011

Eighteen Greenpeace activists who scaled an oil rig off Greenland to protest oil prospecting in the Arctic were on Saturday arrested by police, the environmental group said.

Greenpeace activists climb Greenland oil rig

May 29, 2011

(AP) -- Three Greenpeace activists on Sunday climbed up an oil rig off Greenland's coast in an attempt to stop a Scottish oil company from starting deepwater drilling in the arctic waters, the environmental ...

Russia's Arctic holds 100 Bln tons of oil, gas

Sep 21, 2010

(AP) -- Russia's Arctic territories are estimated to contain up to 100 billion tons of oil and gas and the nation needs to defend its claim to those riches, a Cabinet minister said Tuesday.

Oil spilled in Russian Arctic

Apr 24, 2012

An oil spill in the Russian Arctic affected an area of up to 8,000 square meters after workers tried to open an old well, causing oil to gush uncontrollably for 37 hours, officials said Monday.

Recommended for you

US delays decision on Keystone pipeline project

21 hours ago

The United States announced Friday a fresh delay on a final decision regarding a controversial Canada to US oil pipeline, saying more time was needed to carry out a review.

New research on Earth's carbon budget

Apr 18, 2014

( —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Aug 25, 2012
Long prison terms in Siberia would be too good for these nihilists.
not rated yet Aug 28, 2012
Go Greenies! Go! Shootlist doesn't know what a good cause is!

More news stories

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...