Tense Stand-Off as Greenpeace Raids Russian Arctic Drillers Again

Environmental activists from Greenpeace intercepted a Russian vessel on its way to an Arctic drilling site on Monday. The ship, which was taking workers to the country's first Arctic oil production base, has been delayed for several hours since the activists sped up alongside the passenger vessel, the Anna Akhmatova, in their inflatable speedboat and attached themselves to the ship's anchor chain.

Greenpeace has said it has sent two more speedboats with seven more activists to the scene from its Arctic Sunrise icebreaker.

The Russian vessel has attempted to fight off the activists with powerful water cannons. At one point one of the Greenpeace boats was "flipped by hoses," according to the group, sending activists into the water.

Speaking from the action, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said:

"Two days ago we scaled this oil platform to draw the world's attention to this environmental crime, before it becomes an environmental disaster zone. Today we're taking peaceful action in the heart of Arctic destruction to stop this platform from wrecking these pristine waters. Nearly two million people have already joined our campaign to protect this unique region and we will do all we can to keep it off-limits to reckless oil companies looking to profit from its exploitation."

"The Prirazlomnaya (oil rig) has requested help from the Russian coast guards, who are on the scene, but have not yet intervened," the statement added.

It's been more than 14 hrs since the activists attached themselves to the ship as the intense stand off continues.

Russia's largest energy company, Gazprom, is due to begin oil production next year and is slated to produce up to seven million tons of oil annually from the Arctic.

The action was the second in three days against Gazprom. On Friday a team of six Greenpeace activists occupied the Russian oil drilling platform Prirazlomnaya in the Arctic for 15 hours.

"Despite extreme operating conditions, Gazprom has only released a summary of its oil spill response plan to the public. Yet even this document shows that the company would be completely unprepared to deal with an accident in the Far North, and would rely on substandard clean-up methods -- such as shovels and buckets -- that simply do not work in icy conditions," Greenpeace stated.

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