Greenpeace activists storm Russian oil rig
MOSCOW - The Associated Press
Greenpeace activists including Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, board energy giant Gazprom's Arctic oil platform Prirazlomnaya off the North-eastern coast of Russia in the Pechora Sea on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. AP PhotoGreenpeace activists have stormed a floating oil rig in Russia’s Pechora Sea, hundreds of miles from the nearest port, to protest oil drilling in the Arctic, the environmental organization said on Friday.
Six activists boarded the Prirazlomnaya platform in the early hours on Friday and remain on the rig, Greenpeace said in a statement. They set off in inflatable speedboats from their ship and scaled the platform with mooring lines.
The activists, which include Greenpeace’s chief Kumi Naidoo, did not face much resistance from oil workers and managed to put a banner on the rig, which says: "Don’t kill the Arctic."
"We’re here peacefully and we will continue to draw the attention of Russian people and people around the world to what’s happening there," Naidoo told The Associated Press by the telephone from the platform. "It’s bad for Russia, it’s bad for the planet."
Prirazlomnaya is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, which is pioneering Russia’s oil drilling in the Arctic. The state-owned company installed the drilling platform there last year and is preparing to drill the first well.
Naidoo told the AP that his teams are suspended from the platform’s mooring lines. He said many of the platform’s employees "have been very friendly, engaging in conversations with us, asking where we come from and offering us soup."
Naidoo said the activists have been told by one of the platform employees that a coast guard helicopter is on its way to detain them.
The platform is about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the nearest port - Murmansk, a city on the extreme northwestern edge of the Russian mainland.
Gazprom would not comment on Greenpeace action, but said it would issue a statement later.
Greenpeace said that its activists have supplies to last "for an extended stay."
Russian and international environmentalists have warned that drilling in the Russian Arctic could have disastrous consequences because of a lack of technology and infrastructure to deal with a possible spill in a remote region with massive icebergs and heavy storms.
An AP investigation last year found that at least 1 percent of Russia’s annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled every year.
A report by Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund, issued last week, said that a spill from Prirazlomnaya could contaminate protected areas and nature reserves on the shore and islands within 20 hours, while emergency teams would take at least three days to reach the area.