Greenpeace activists interrupt Gazprom's operations in the Arctic
Denis Sinyakov captured the moment when Greenpeace activists in an inflatable boat are winched into the air in the August 2012 Photo of the Month.Attached to the mooring line of the Anna Akhmatova, left, in an attempt to prevent the passenger ship from docking to the Gazprom oil rig Prirazlomnaya, right, the activists stand on the stern and lean into the hull trying to hold on before they are dumped into the Arctic waters of the Pechora Sea. Continue reading →
Greenpeace polar bears pay a visit to oil giant Gazprom's headquarters in Moscow
I was on board our ship Arctic Sunrise, rolling on the swell of the eastern Barents sea, far north in the Russian Arctic, looking through the binoculars at a rusting hulk of Prirazlomnaya, the first ice-capable permanent oil platform to be placed in the Arctic ocean.
The monstrous steel cube, rising up like a futuristic metal fortification from the pristine Arctic waters was more than just an eye-sore. It was a personification and a perfect example of the industrialization that this extremely sensitive environment is exposed to, not least by the oil giants who are more and more fixing their gaze on the far North of the planet, as the climate-change driven ice-melt is making the Arctic Ocean open to navigation for some months every year. Continue reading →
Intrepid polar bears from Greenpeace visited Gazprom’s Moscow headquarters.
Early this morning, a team of intrepid polar bears from Greenpeace visited Gazprom’s flashy headquarters in Moscow. At the same time, activists from Greenpeace in Germany set up a leaking oil derrick outside the Gazprom offices in Berlin. Continue reading →
When I spoke to my friends and family this weekend I was unanimously scolded. After Friday’s 15-hour occupation of Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea, they all said “you’re getting too old for this!” With blue hands and feet from the cold, and in the midst of being treated by our ship doctor Marcelo for hypothermia, for a moment I thought they could be right.
But then I returned to the spirit on board our ship the Arctic Sunrise; the eager faces of my fellow activists Sini, Jens, Lars, Basil and Terry, the determination of our Captain Vlad, and the rest of the committed crew who were standing up for what they believed was right. Coming back to this I knew that the risks had been worth it.
For me, an action like the one we’ve just completed in the Arctic is Greenpeace at its best. Teams united in the one goal, taking a risk to confront dangerous industry at the frontlines of destruction, shining a light on an environmental crime that happens out of the sights and minds of most regular people.
I’ve been an activist since the age of 15. I’ve seen the inside of a prison cell for the cause, but nobody – even with experience – can honestly say that there is no fear when you set out to take action involving risk to personal safety, or the risk of imprisonment. We were feeling it acutely in the days preceding the action as we traced through our different scenarios and plans. But I felt encouraged, we gave each other confidence.
And then our time came. We sailed early morning towards Gazprom’s oil platform, and soon some of my worst fears came true. During my first attempt to climb, I got knocked off course by a big swell and did not make it up. I spent several minutes in the icy water fighting with the rope. Defeated and fighting the cold, I had to retreat to the boat. Continue reading →
A short while ago, seven Greenpeace International activists, including Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, headed toward Gazprom’s giant drilling platform in the Russian Arctic for the second time in three days. The activists, in two high-speed boats, intercepted a supply vessel as it prepared to drop off the workers to the oil platform.
Our tiny boat is facing massive ship with huge water cannons. One of our RIB attached to the anchor has been flipped by hoses… Activists were in the water. They are now safe, and well, in another boat. Action is going on as another team is moving into position … stay tuned !
Kumi’s boat is now attached to anchor chain of this vessel – it’s not moving anywhere and so the platform workers can’t get on-board, effectively stopping its preparations to drill for oil in the Arctic.
A Russian Coast Guard vessel is nearby, and presumably assessing the situation.
A second load of activists have been brought to the scene – now 14 in total.
You may be aware that this morning at approximately 4am, five activists and I scaled the Prirazlomnaya oil platform to take peaceful action against Gazprom’s work in the Arctic, to highlight the dangers of its plans to drill here in the Pechora Sea.
The amount of oil that is lost every year in spills throughout Russia is roughly equivalent to the amount that Prirazlomnaya would produce annually. It would be far less expensive for the oil companies, the government, the people of Russia, and certainly the Indigenous Peoples who depend on this environment, to simply recover and use the oil lost in spills, than it would be to exploit the pristine Arctic shelf. In short, drilling in the Arctic will not benefit the average Russian citizen.
Gazprom is set to begin dangerous drilling on the Arctic shelf with no viable oil spill response plan. It’s not a question of if an oil spill will happen, but when — and when it does, Gazprom would be powerless to stop it. Just last week Greenpeace Russia uncovered a startling secret: Gazprom’s emergency plan has expired, meaning any drilling they do here would be illegal under Russian legislation.
During my time in Moscow last week, I met with the Federal Minister of Environment and Natural Resources and his senior advisers. I met with several journalists and civil society activists, and had the privilege of speaking with Indigenous Peoples representatives on whose traditional territory much of Russia’s onshore oil drilling is carried out, with disastrous results.
Together with Greenpeace Russia, we presented data from esteemed Russian scientists — the same ones often hired by the oil industry — that confirmed those fears: Gazprom and emergency services could not cope with an oil spill disaster here. The scientists calculated 60,000 different scenarios if an oil spill were to occur at this platform, and their research showed very clearly that in fact it would take the company days to mount a serious response. Meanwhile, the toxic oil would reach the shores of three protected wildlife and nature reserves in just 20 hours.
I took part in this peaceful action today to declare — together with Russians and citizens around the world — an end to the madness that is putting the profits of an elite few above the interests and safety of the rest of us. We are also here standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Russia, many of whom last week signed a powerful joint statement opposing further disastrous oil drilling on and near their traditional territories, and demanding that their voices be heard in this critical debate. We humbly stand with them in their struggle.
In our desire to highlight this plight, we hope – and know – that actions do speak louder than words.
As you well know, Russia is also experiencing climate impacts. Scientists have concluded that the 2010 heat waves and forest fires were induced by a changing climate. In addition, more than 60% of Russia is covered by permafrost, which releases methane gas as it melts — a powerful greenhouse gas that is even more dangerous than carbon dioxide. And as the permafrost melts, the ground shifts, damaging buildings, bridges, roads, and dangerous oil and gas infrastructure. Even the Russian Ministry of Emergency has warned that by 2030, more than 25% of all buildings in Northern Russia could be damaged by the impacts of melting permafrost.
Time is running out for us to avert catastrophic climate change — and oil giants like Shell and Gazprom must be stopped from profiting from a disaster of their own making while doing further damage to our planet. It is clearly madness to ignore the fact that the only reason we are able to even consider drilling in these remote parts is as a result of the melting arctic ice, which is caused by emissions from oil, coal and gas. As the ice melts, our planet warms, which causes the ice to melt, and our planet to warm — it is a vicious circle.
We are effectively destroying the refrigerator or the air conditioner of our planet, destabilizing our global climate and threatening our children and grandchildren’s future. Any day now, the scientific community will announce that the Arctic sea ice has reached an all-time low, below even 2007 levels. This is a disastrous record that we continue to break, and a warning cry of a planet in peril that we must not ignore.
Join me and my fellow activists at www.greenpeace.org or www.savethearctic.org and watch for live updates as the action unfolds. And please, take action with us – you can follow me onTwitter and Greenpeace on Facebook. Please share with your friends, so that together we can shine a light on this global environmental crime, and stop it before it becomes a global disaster.
Gazprom oil drilling platfrom, Prirazlomnaya, is pictured in Barents Sea. An international crew is currently on a month-long expedition in the Barents Sea, which is part of the ongoing 'Save the Arctic' campaign.
The world is facing a polar emergency. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere on earth and corporations on every side of the Arctic are doing everything they can to start a new oil rush in the pristine Arctic waters.
This summer, Greenpeace’s ship, the Esperanza, traveled to the Chukchi Sea to document this remote Arctic region from the seafloor up before Shell’s drilling rigs arrive. The ship’s Arctic adventure (see the full story here) found new data and specimens that are now being shared openly with scientists and the U.S. Department of the Interior in hopes of more fully understanding this delicate ecosystem before Shell manages to begin drilling.
Shell’s Alaskan plans have been held back by their own incompetence again and again, but they are not the only company ready to sacrifice the Arctic for profit. Whether it’s Gazprom in Russia or Shell in the USA, these companies are drilling in the Arctic because they have no vision for a future beyond oil, and no desire to address the dramatic changes in the world’s climate that are now clearly visible.
The company names may be different, but the threat is the same. In Russia the oil industry is already causing massive problems. Russian oil companies spill more than 30 million barrels of oil – that’s seven times the amount spilled in the Gulf – on land each year, and every 18 months, more than four million barrels spew into the Arctic Ocean, where it becomes everyone’s problem. Gazprom, the state-owned oil giant, is now set to begin a risky drilling program of its own, the first ever inside the Arctic Circle.
So while the Esperanza has left Alaskan waters, on the other side of the pole, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo has traveled to Russia, and The Arctic Sunrise has carried a team of expert scientists and girl guides to study the rapid changes happening to the sea ice there.
In September, the Arctic Sunrise will continue its voyage in Russian waters by traveling to the edge of the retreating sea ice to bring home the stark reality of climate change. We will continue to use creative communication, compelling images and world class science from the scene to show the world that we need international protection for the Arctic.
So while Shell attempts to lurch toward the beginning of their drilling season, our #SaveTheArctic campaign continues on many fronts. Stay tuned.
Today marks my third visit to Russia, the last being in 2006 when I had the privilege of meeting President Putin to talk about the freedoms with which NGOs can operate in this country. In a curious turn of events, and some six years later, both Putin and freedoms are still very much in the news.
You can take your pick from any number of scandals currently making headlines in Russia: planned legislation aimed at hampering NGO activity and the right to protest, draconian laws aimed at internet censorship – even the fallout from the recent performance by punk group Pussy Riot, which has garnered international attention.
What is different, between my last visit and now, however, is the scale and unbridled nature of the public’s response. Russians have taken to the streets en masse to protest the shrinking democratic space in their country – up to 100,000 at various times in Moscow alone to speak out against Putin’s rule. It’s clear that Russians are no longer prepared to tolerate civil injustices and are increasingly prepared to speak up fearlessly in their own defense. Continue reading →
The Arctic Council is meeting in Stockholm today, and government representatives will discuss the sustainability – or not – of Arctic oil.
We received this video yesterday from our colleagues in Russia who have just returned from a trip to the West Siberian oil fields operated by Gazprom and Rosneft to expose the true impact of oil in the Arctic.