Norway creates 'safety zone' at contested Arctic drill site

May 30, 2014
Greenpeace International activists from eight countries scale and occupy Statoil contracted oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen on May 27, 2014 to protest the company's plans to drill the northernmost well in the Norwegian Arctic

Norway said Friday it had created a "safety zone" around the Arctic drilling site where Greenpeace is trying to prevent oil explorations.

The zone, which stretches for 500 metres (1,640 feet) around the site, has been created in order to force the departure of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, which is currently there.

The environmental group is trying to prevent Statoil from operating the northernmost well ever to be drilled in Norway.

"The vessels that are not involved in the oil activities of the operator do not have access to this area," petroleum and energy ministry spokesman Haakon Smith-Isaksen said.

But Greenpeace questioned the legality of the zone arguing that it should have been created with a 30-day notice period.

Greenpeace activist Truls Gulowsen told AFP that those on the ship "intend to stay" at least until June 28, the day a 30-day notice period would expire.

"We don't see any reason to move the Esperanza, which has the same right to be on this spot as an oil rig. We even got here first, which according to international law, allows us to stay," he said.

Greenpeace argues that the in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea is too close to the sea ice and to Bear Island 175 kilometres (109 miles) away, which is home to rare birds and, sometimes, polar bears.

A group of 15 Greenpeace activists boarded the Statoil rig earlier this week and tried to stop the .

The last seven who remained on the ship were removed by Norwegian police on Thursday.

Also on Friday, the Norwegian ministry of climate and environment rejected a Greenpeace appeal asking the government to protect Bear Island and ban drilling in the area.

"We are ready to start the as soon as everything will be in place," Statoil spokesman Morten Eek said.

Explore further: Drilling pads for oil and gas development often exacerbate poor soil conditions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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 ...

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 arrested after Sweden protest

May 03, 2012

(AP) -- Swedish police on Thursday arrested six Greenpeace activists after they boarded an icebreaker off Sweden's southeast coast, forcing authorities to tow the ship it back into land.

Greenpeace hijacks oil firms' Greenland talks

Dec 01, 2011

Greenpeace activists on Thursday diverted oil executives from a meeting on prospecting possibilities off Greenland and instead gave them a 20-minute environmental lecture, the group said.

Recommended for you

New Marine Protected Area proposed for Myanmar

59 minutes ago

The proposed establishment of a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Myeik archipelago has received enthusiastic support by participants in a workshop held recently in Myanmar's Tanintharyi region.

Beijing's focus on coal lost in haze of smog

6 hours ago

The soaring, grimy chimneys of the coal-fired power station have belched the last of their choking fumes into Beijing's air, authorities say—but experts doubt the plan will ease the capital's smog.

User comments : 0