A team of six Greenpeace activists has ended a 15-hour occupation on Friday of the Russian oil drilling platform Prirazlomnaya in the Arctic to protest the risky plans for drilling in the pristine ecosystem and to call attention to the "defining environmental struggle of our time."
The activists boarded the rig, owned by Gazprom, in the Pechora Sea at 4 AM local time after leaving Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise on speedboats. They scaled the platform and said they successfully interupted operations. Gazprom tried to stop the activists by hosing them with water and later throwing metal at them. After 15 hours, the activists voluntarily left for their own safety.
The activists included Greenpeace's International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, who tweeted during the action, "Melting Arctic ice is a warning, not a business opportunity." Speaking during the action to Democracy Now! on Friday, Naidoo said, "We want to draw global attention to what is the defining environmental struggle of our time, and time is running out for us to avert catastrophic climate change. And that’s why we are here."
Naidoo also made a statement from the platform during the occupation:
“We climbed Gazprom's rusting oil platform backed by over a million people who have joined a new movement to protect the Arctic. We are here on their behalf. We are also standing shoulder to shoulder with the Russian Indigenous Peoples, who just last week signed a joint statement opposing offshore oil drilling in this area, which is near their traditional territory.”
“Like Shell’s reckless plans to drill in Alaska, it’s not a question of if an oil spill will happen, but when. The only way to prevent a catastrophic oil spill from happening in this unique environment is to permanently ban all drilling now.
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“This threat affects us all. In my home country of South Africa we are now facing a far more dangerous climate because companies like Gazprom and Shell are pumping money into politics and blocking clean alternatives so that they can extract the last drops of oil left. We’re here in the Arctic to draw a line in the ice and say ‘you come no further’.”
From Arctic Sunrise, Greenpeace Campaigner Dima Litvinov, said, "This is the face of Arctic destruction. Prirazlomnaya is the first ice-capable permanent oil platform in the Arctic. It is a perfect example -- it is a personification of the slowly creeping industrialization of this pristine area. And especially, given the information that is coming in all the time about the rapidly decreasing ice cover in the Arctic, it is an obscenity. It is an insult that the same companies that are responsible for this crisis are now seeking to profit from it."
Gazprom is set to be the first in commercial oil production in the offshore Arctic.
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Greenpeace has video of the activists boarding the Gazprom Arctic oil platform: