Greenpeace’s ship, the Esperanza, is still on station in the Arctic to expose renewed Norwegian efforts to drill for oil in this pristine environment.
Last week we successfully headed off attempts by an oil company to complete controversial seismic testing, commissioned by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate in the absence of any political discussion, by revealing it in prime time TV news.
Norwegian oil interests are persistent but we’re determined to stop them. This week the Esperanza approached the Statoil oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen located over the Isfjell well, just south of Bear Island in the Barents Sea. Here’s a video of Professor Richard Steiner speaking to the rig that explains why drilling in the Barents Sea is such a risky business.
They are really eager to drill. Too eager. When the Esperanza arrived on site, drilling was about to begin despite an ongoing official complaints procedure that should rule out any drilling until 18 September.
It’s not the only time that oil companies have started drilling before the official complaints procedure is concluded. In fact, it’s how they go about their business. The major Norwegian newspaper VG reported this week that in 156 cases out of 162 the Environment Directorate gave permission to drill before complaints procedures had been concluded.
The sneaky and scandalous tactic the oil companies are using to put pressure on the Environment Directorate is to apply late for permission to drill while they get their rigs early into the drilling position. The head of the directorate has admitted that the department has been put under undue pressure.
This dirty game needs to end. That is the message that the Esperanza is sending to Norwegian politicians and particularly to the Minister of Environment, Tine Sundtoft.
Erlend Tellnes is an Arctic campaigner with Greenpeace Nordic.
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