Protestors target Shell UK gas stations over Arctic drilling
BY ALEXIS FLYNN
HOUSTON -- Environmental activists occupied Royal Dutch Shell retail outlets across London and Edinburgh to protest the Anglo-Dutch oil giant's planned drilling campaign in the Arctic waters offshore Alaska.
In a co-ordinated action, Greenpeace campaigners took over a series of gas stations throughout the English and Scottish capitals. Greenpeace said it planned to shut-down 112 stations by activating their safety switches, although both Shell and the Metropolitan Police were unable to immediately verify how many outlets had been affected.
In an online broadcast earlier this morning, Greenpeace said it had closed down more than 40 stations in London.
"Local borough stations received a number of calls from members of the public alerting them to disruptions at outlets across London," said a police spokesman. He said the first reported incident was at the Shell garage on Roehampton Lane in the south west of the city at 0600 BST. "The situation is being dealt with," said the police spokesman, without elaborating on whether officers were taking steps to remove the protestors or whether arrests had been made.
Greenpeace is targeting Shell stations as the company prepares to begin drilling for oil at two sites in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Exploration work is due to begin in a matter of weeks.
"Shell is preparing, for the first time, to unleash a drilling fleet of huge vessels upon the fragile and beautiful Arctic, home of the polar bears," said Greenpeace. "An oil spill would have devastating consequences on this fragile environment and the animals that live in it. We need to tell them [Shell] to stop--that's why today we're shutting down all of Shell's petrol stations in London and Edinburgh," said the environmental group.
A Shell spokesperson said: "Shell recognizes that certain organisations are opposed to our exploration program offshore Alaska, and we respect the right of individuals and organisations to engage in a free and frank exchange of views about our operations. Recognizing the right of individuals to express their point of view, we only ask that they do so with their safety and the safety of others, including the general public and Shell personnel, in mind."
"Shell has met with numerous organisations and individuals who oppose drilling offshore Alaska. We respect their views and value the dialogue. We have extended this same offer for productive dialogue to Greenpeace," the spokesperson added.
However, Greenpeace were adamant that its protest action had been necessitated by failure to engage Shell on the issue.
"Nearly 500,000 people have written to Shell telling it not to drill in the Arctic and it hasn't listened," said Greenpeace in a statement.
Dow Jones Newswires