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Greenpeace climbs, sets up camp on Shell’s Arctic drilling rig

Alaska Dispatch News article published April 6, 2015

Greenpeace climbs, sets up camp on Shell’s Arctic drilling rig

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Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 14.53.31Protesters with the environmentalist group Greenpeace on Monday intercepted and climbed a Royal Dutch Shell drill rig in the Pacific Ocean to protest the company’s plans to drill in Alaska’s Arctic.

According to a release from Greenpeace, six activists launched from the vessel Esperanza and boarded the rig around dawn Monday in the Pacific Ocean, more than 700 miles northwest of Hawaii. The drill rig, the Polar Pioneer, is one of two vessels contracted by Shell in advance of a possible 2015 drilling season. The Polar Pioneer is meant to stand by in Dutch Harbor as a backup to the other drill ship, the Noble Discoverer.

Greenpeace initially reported that the six protesters “dodged jets of water” as they attempted to board the rig, but later said that the team had met no resistance.

“They have supplies to last for several days and are equipped with technology which will allow them to communicate with supporters around the world in real-time, despite being hundreds of miles from land,” Greenpeace said.

Shell said the Greenpeace action was a dangerous stunt.

“We can confirm that protestors from Greenpeace have illegally boarded the Polar Pioneer, under contract to Shell, jeopardizing not only the safety of the crew on board, but the protestors themselves,” said a Shell statement released by the company’s Alaska spokeswoman, Megan Baldino. “Shell has met with organizations and individuals who oppose energy exploration offshore Alaska.  We respect their views and value the dialogue.  We will not, however, condone the illegal tactics employed by Greenpeace. Nor will we allow these stunts to distract from preparations underway to execute a safe and responsible exploration program.”

Greenpeace has made a show in recent years of highly public protests connected through social media, including climbing The Shard skyscraper in London and boarding an offshore drill rig in Russia, which led to a lengthy detention of the 30 Greenpeace activists involved in that protest.

It promoted the Shell boarding on social media, too, including Twitter:

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In early 2012, Shell won an injunction against Greenpeace to keep protesters away from its Arctic-bound rigs. That injunction came in the wake of a protest in New Zealand that saw Greenpeace protesters — including actress Lucy Lawless, of “Xena: Warrior Princess” fame — scale the derrick of the Noble Discoverer and stay there for three days.

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