Environmental campaigners slip through security boats to scale Cairn Energy oil rig in dawn raid
by Severin Carrell and Bibi van der Zee / guardian.co.uk /August 31, 2010
Greenpeace claims to have shut down offshore drilling by a British oil company at a controversial site in the Arctic after four climbers began an occupation of the rig just after dawn.
The environment campaigners said the four protesters evaded a small flotilla of armed Danish navy and police boats which have been guarding the rigs in Baffin Bay off Greenland since the Greenpeace protest ship Esperanza arrived last week.
The rigs are operated by the Edinburgh-based oil exploration company Cairn Energy, which last week prompted world-wide alarm among environmentalists after disclosing it had found the first evidence of oil or gas deposits under the Arctic.
Several multinational oil companies, including Exxon. Chevron and Shell, are waiting for permission from Greenland to begin deep sea drilling in the Arctic’s pristine waters.
Campaigners claim this led to a dangerous rush to exploit one of the world’s last major untapped reserves in one of its most fragile locations. The US Geological Survey last year estimated there may be 90bn barrels of oil and 50tn cubic metres of gas across the Arctic.
The campaign group said: “At dawn this morning our expert climbers in inflatable speed boats dodged Danish Navy commandos before climbing up the inside of the rig and hanging from it in tents suspended from ropes, halting its drilling operation.
“The climbers have enough supplies to occupy the hanging tents for several days. If they succeed in stopping drilling for just a short time then the operators, Britain’s Cairn Energy, will struggle to meet a tight deadline to complete the exploration before winter ice conditions force it to abandon the search for oil off Greenland until next year.”
The occupation comes after a nine-day stand-off between Greenpeace and the Danish navy, which has sent its frigate Vaedderen to the area, deploying elite Danish commandos on high-speed boats to patrol a 500m exclusion zone around the rigs.
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