Greenpeace activists target Norwegian Arctic drilling rig

On Monday, activists in Hammerfest boarded a rig that's set to drill one of Norway's northernmost Arctic wells ever later this year.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - April 30, 2019

Four representatives of Greenpeace jumped onboard the oil rig West Hercules on Monday as it was moored on the waterfront in Hammerfest, in Northern Norway, and being made ready to drill of one of Norway’s northernmost ever wells.

“Stop drilling in the Arctic,” read a banner raised by the activists onboard the rig.

“Norwegian oil is boiling the earth,” a second banner reads. “People vs oil” and  “the people against oil,” more banners read.

“We are in a climate crisis that demands that we actually do something,” activist Camilla Lennerthson says in a statement. “I am here and do what I can to tell the Norwegian government that if we are to keep our planet livable over the next years, then we have to stop looking for new oil,” she underlines.

The West Hercules is owned and operated by company Seadrill and is now getting ready for a drilling operation in the northern parts of the Barents Sea. The installation will in May be towed about 420 kilometers north of the Norwegian coast to one of the northernmost license areas in Norwegian waters. The Korpfjell area is located on 74 degrees north and is operated by Equinor.

Experts believe the area could hold major hydrocarbon reserves.

It will be the second well drilled in the area. In 2017, the Norwegian oil company drilled in the area with rig Songa Enabler. Environmentalists from Greenpeace took action against the rig at that time.

“To drill for oil in the Arctic, now when the region is melting more quickly than ever before, is madness,” says leader of Greenpeace Norway, Frode Pleym. He underlines that the protest is a strictly non-violent action.

The boarding of the West Hercules comes just few days after the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority issued an announcement about serious technical irregularities on board the installation. According to the oil safety watchdog,  there are several “comprehensive breaches” of  national regulations. In addition, owner Seadrill has failed to follow up previous reported breaches.

The West Hercules was built in 2008 and has drilled a number of wells in Arctic waters.