Fulfilling their promise to confront and attempt to stop a Russian oil company's first shipment of arctic oil from reaching mainland Europe, more than 80 activists from Greenpeace on Thursday attempted to block the oil tanker Mikhail Ulyanov from docking in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam.
According to early reports, at least 30 members of the Greenpeace team have been arrested by Dutch officials.
Supported by the group's flagship the Rainbow Warrior III, a fleet of inflatable rafts, and a paraglider circling above, the international team of environmentalists—who say protecting the Arctic from drilling is vital in protecting the region's fragile ecosystems and battling planetary climate change—delivered a clear message from above and below: 'No Arctic Oil."
One group of activists painted "No Arctic Oil" in large letters on the hull of the tanker, while other activists in inflatables put themselves between the quay wall and the tanker in order to keep it from landing.
The oil inside the Mikhail Ulyanov is the very first shipment from an Arctic oil field drilled by Russian oil giant Gazprom and its delivery to Europe, says Greenpeace, marks the beginning of a terrifying new chapter in the history of extraction.
"This tanker is the first sign of a reckless new push to exploit the Arctic, a place of incredible beauty which is melting before our eyes," said Dutch Greenpeace activist Faiza Oulahsen, who was on the scene. "I stand with five million others against those who put short term profit above the common interests of humanity."
Greenpeace campaigners are calling for an end to offshore Arctic oil drilling both in Russia and around world. The group received international attention last year after 28 of their activsts and two photojournalists were arrested by Russian authorities for staging a protest against an offshore Russian oil rig operated by Gazprom. The oil inside the ship targeted in Thursday's protest is from that very same platform. Some of the activists that became known as the 'Arctic 30' also participated in the action in Rotterdam and at least some of them, including Captain of the Rainbow Warrior Pete Wilcox, are among the now detained.
Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, said: "It's increasingly clear that our reliance on oil and gas is a major threat not just to the environment, but to global security. Arctic oil represents a dangerous new form of dependence on Russia's state owned energy giants at the very moment when we should be breaking free of their influence. We cannot hope for any kind of ethical foreign policy while our governments remain hopelessly dependent on companies like BP, Shell and Gazprom."