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Greenpeace boards 2 drill rigs in Arctic protest

May 27, 2014

STAVANGER, Norway (AP) — Greenpeace activists boarded a drilling rig hundreds of miles offshore Norway and another in the Netherlands in a protest Tuesday against oil and gas exploration in Arctic waters.

Juha Aromaa, a spokesman for the environmental group, said 15 activists boarded a rig operated by Norwegian energy company Statoil about 109 miles (175 kilometers) off the Bear Island nature reserve early Tuesday without encountering any resistance from the onboard crew.

Statoil was given the green light to drill in the northern part of the Barents Sea late Monday by Norway’s government. The rig had been on a government-ordered hiatus after Greenpeace complained that a spill in the Arctic could have disastrous environmental consequences.

Norwegian police were not planning to intervene because the rig had not started drilling and was therefore under the jurisdiction of the flag state, the Marshall Islands, said Ole Saeverud, police chief in the northern city of Tromsoe.

Erlend Tellnes, a Norwegian protester on board the rig, said the activists had enough supplies for “a long time” and could get supplied again from shore if necessary.

“We have a lot of food and we are prepared to stay here as long as we can,” he said by telephone, adding that there was a “fairly good relationship” between the activists and the workers on the rig.

In a statement, Statoil said its safety measures in the “very unlikely” event of an oil spill were robust, and described the Greenpeace action as irresponsible and illegal.

Also Tuesday, Greenpeace said 30 activists in the Dutch port of Ijmuiden boarded a rig contracted by Russia’s Gazprom to drill in the Pechora Sea. Greenpeace said they were removed after five hours.

The Arctic is believed to hold an estimated 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its untapped gas. Those resources are expected to become easier to access as climate change melts the frozen region.

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