Eco-activists forced off oil rig by bad weather

Greenpeace activists, who boarded the world’s second largest oil rig in an attempt to stop it making its journey to Greenland for a deep-water drilling project, had to abandon their protest due to dangerous weather conditions. The 52,000-tonne platform, belonging to Scottish firm Cairn Energy, was intercepted by 11 activists who clambered aboard using rock climbing gear on Good Friday.

Despite managing to unfurl banners which read: “Stop Arctic Destruction” and “Go Beyond Oil, Choose Clean Energy”, the platform did not halt on its journey from Turkey to Greenland’s Baffin Bay. Force-seven gales also forced the activists off the vessel just 10 hours after they had boarded.

Headed by former international rugby star Sir Bill Gammell, Cairn Energy is planning to spend as much as GBP 300 million (EUR 340 million) over the next few months in its quest for oil in the Arctic. As drilling is only possible between July and October when the sea ice is at a minimum, any delay could cost the company millions and set the venture back by a whole year.

A Greenpeace spokesman said the activists removed themselves from the rig for their own safety, but that their campaign of disruption would continue. “We have made a point,” said the spokesman. “We constantly monitor the polluters and will take non-violent direct action where necessary.”

Cairn Energy confirmed that the incident had taken place, but said the platform was still “in transit to take part in Cairn’s 2011 exploration programme in Greenland”. The firm has been given permission for the project by the Greenland government and has already drilled three wells in the region.

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