Six Greenpeace climbers scale Shell’s Arctic-bound oil rig

Six Greenpeace climbers have intercepted an Arctic-bound Shell oil rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 750 miles north-west of Hawaii and have scaled the 38,000 tonne platform.

The multi-national team of volunteers [1] will set up camp on the underside of the Polar Pioneer’s main deck. They have supplies to last for several days and are equipped with technology which will allow them to communicate with supporters around the world in real-time, despite being hundreds of miles from land.

Last week, the United States Department of Interior approved Shell’s drilling lease for the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic. This means that in 100 days, Shell could begin drilling in the Alaskan Arctic.

At dawn this morning, the six, from the USA, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and Austria, sped towards the Polar Pioneer, which Shell intends to use to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, in inflatable boats launched from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza [2].

They unfurled a banner containing the names of 6.7 million of people from around the world who are opposed to Arctic oil drilling.

Aliyah Field, one of the six, tweeted from the Polar Pioneer: “We made it! We’re on Shell’s platform. And we’re not alone. Everyone can help turn this into a platform for people power! #TheCrossing.”

Johno Smith from New Zealand, another one of the six, said: “We’re here to highlight that in less than 100 days Shell is going to the Arctic to drill for oil. This pristine environment needs protecting for future generations and all life that will call it home. But instead Shell’s actions are exploiting the melting ice to increase a manmade disaster. Climate change is real and already inflicting pain and suffering on my brothers and sisters in the Pacific.

“I believe that shining a light on what Shell is doing will encourage more people to take a strong stand against them and other companies who are seeking to destroy this planet for profit. I’m just one voice out here, but I know I’m not alone, and millions if not billions of voices demanding the right to safe and healthy lives will have a huge chance of changing things.”

The Polar Pioneer, which is being transported on a 712 feet (217 metres) long heavy-lift vessel called the Blue Marlin, is one of two drilling vessels heading towards the Arctic for Shell this year. The second, the Noble Discoverer, is one of the oldest drill ships in the world. In December 2014, Noble Drilling, one of Shell’s biggest Arctic sub-contractors and owner of the Noble Discoverer, pleaded guilty to committing eight felonies in connection with Shell’s failed attempts to drill in the Arctic Ocean in 2012.

Both the drilling vessels are crossing the Pacific and are expected to arrive in Seattle [3] around the middle of April before heading to the Chukchi Sea.

Quite recently, Shell’s Arctic infrastructure passed through much of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, a country that has been perennially hit by extreme weather events caused by global climate change. The country was ground zero for Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm on record ever to make landfall which killed more than 7,000 people, displaced millions and cost the Philippine economy almost USD 2 billion in damages.

The Philippines recently averted another potentially powerful storm- Typhoon Maysak which had weakened into a tropical depression after making landfall in Isabela Province on Easter Sunday. Earlier dubbed a Super Typhoon, Maysak raged through the Pacific with winds of up to 260 kph, devastating parts of Micronesia, killing at least five people.

“As world leaders continue to consign our future into the hands of dirty fossil fuel companies, more intense and destructive storms are being felt across the globe and are set to become the ‘new normal’, altering the lives of millions of people, especially in countries like the Philippines,” said Anna Abad, Climate Justice Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Our strength and resiliency in dealing with the impacts of climate change should not be seen as a free pass for dirty fossil fuel companies like Shell to continue to attempt to drill for oil in vulnerable frontiers like the Arctic, while ignoring the climate risks posed to vulnerable communities in the Philippines.”


[1] The six climbers, who will not interfere with the navigation or operation of the vessel, are Aliyah Field, 27, from the USA (@aliyahfield), Johno Smith, 32, from New Zealand (@nsp_one), Andreas Widlund, 27, from Sweden (@widlundandreas), Miriam Friedrich, 23, from Austria (@mirifriedrich), Zoe Buckley Lennox, 21, from Australia (@zoevirginia) and Jens Loewe, 46, from Germany (jens4762).

[2] The 35 person crew on board the Esperanza have tailed the Polar Pioneer for more than 5000 nautical miles, since it left Brunei Bay in Malaysia.

[3] Shell intends to use the port of Seattle as a base for the company’s Arctic fleet, despite growing opposition from a range of Seattle-based groups.

Publish your content with EB Publishing

It's about who you reach. Get your news, events, jobs and thought leadership seen by those who matter to you.

Most popular

Featured Events

Publish your event
leaf background pattern

Transforming Innovation for Sustainability Join the Ecosystem →