Above Photo: Greenpeace climate justice activists approaching Shell platform en route to major oilfield with message: ‘STOP DRILLING. START PAYING.’ Chris J Ratcliffe / Greenpeace.
An international quartet of Greenpeace-affiliated climate activists have boarded a Shell-contracted vessel bound for the oil fields of the North Sea with a simple message for the fossil fuel company: “Stop Drilling. Start Paying.”
Carlos Marcelo Bariggi Amara of Argentina, Yakup Çetinkaya of Turkey; Imogen Michel of the UK and Usnea Granger of the U.S. managed to board the White Marlin at 8 a.m. Tuesday and went on to occupy an oil and gas platform that will be used to unlock eight new oil wells. Fellow activists Yeb Saño from the Philippines and Waya Pesik Maweru from Indonesia also approached the vessel but were unable to board.
“Shell must stop drilling and start paying,” Saño, who is also the executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a press release. “We’re taking action today because when Shell extracts fossil fuels it causes a ripple of death, destruction and displacement around the world, having the worst impact on people who are least to blame for the climate crisis.”
The activists approached the vessel while it was located north of the Canary Islands. They arrived in three smaller boats launched from Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise and then used ropes to climb onto the 51,000-tonne Shell-contracted ship.
“There was a couple of meters of swell. It was a bit of an adventure to get on board,” Granger said, as The Guardian reported. “But we are well and safe. We have all the equipment we need to keep ourselves safe.”
The protest is intended to draw attention to the fact that Shell and other fossil fuel companies are contributing to the climate crisis without paying for any of the losses and damages it causes. Granger told The Guardian she had friends who had been forced to flee their homes because of wildfires and hurricanes.
“Shell and the wider fossil fuel industry are bringing the climate crisis into our homes, our families, our landscapes and oceans,” Saño said in the press release. “So we will take them on at sea, at shareholder meetings, in the courtroom, online and at their headquarters. We won’t stop until we get climate justice. We will make polluters pay.”
The action comes as Shell is expected to announce around $83 billion in profits for 2022 on Thursday, according to Greenpeace and The Guardian. Major fossil fuel companies have raked in record profits due to the high oil and gas prices associated with the ongoing energy crisis. Shell reported record quarterly profits during the first three months of 2022 and broke that record again during the year’s second quarter, as Reuters reported.
The oil platform targeted by the climate activists is bound for the Penguins oil and gas field 150 miles off of Scotland’s Shetland Islands, according to The Guardian. It marks the first new crewed production platform that Shell is sending to the North Sea in 30 years, Greenpeace said, and it could help Shell extract 45,000 barrels of oil a day from the Penguin oil field. If all of the oil and gas in the Penguin oil field were burned, it would generate more than the yearly greenhouse gas emissions of Norway, according to The Guardian.
The International Energy Agency has calculated that, if policy and financial leaders want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, they should not invest in any new oil and gas developments beyond those planned as of 2021. Shell says that Penguin is an already active oil field, according to The Guardian. However, the new platform could also be used to generate oil and gas from a new source Shell is currently drilling.
In response to the protests, Shell emphasized safety.
“These actions are causing real safety concerns, with a number of people boarding a moving vessel in rough conditions,” a Shell spokesperson said in an email to Bloomberg. “We respect the right of everyone to express their point of view. It’s essential they do that with their safety and that of others in mind.”
As of Wednesday, the four activists were still occupying the platform, Greenpeace tweeted.
They said they had supplies to remain in place for several days, according to Greenpeace.