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


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

The multi-national team of volunteers 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 U.S. 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, approximately 1 PM EST, the six, from the U.S., 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.

They are hoping to unfurl a banner containing the names of people from around the world who are opposed to Arctic oil drilling, Greenpeace said in a statement.

The Polar Pioneer, which is being transported on a 712-ft long heavy-lift vessel called 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 drillships 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 Polar Pioneer and Noble Discoverer are crossing the Pacific and are expected to arrive in Seattle around the middle of April before heading to the Chukchi Sea. 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, Greenpeace added.

The 35-person crew on board the Esperanza have tailed the Polar Pioneer for more than 5,000 nautical miles, since it left Brunei Bay in Malaysia.

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