Breaking: Our campaigners scale a giant oil rig off the Shetland Islands

Posted by jamie — 21 September 2010 at 11:31am - Comments

Greenpeace activist Victor, hanging off Chevron's Stena Carron rig

A few moments ago, our activists started taking action against a massive oil platform, stopping it from drilling a deep water well off the Shetland Islands.

Using speedboats to reach the huge 228m long drill ship, they climbed up the giant rungs of the anchor chain, and are now preventing the ship from moving to its drill site.

It all started two days ago, when a handful of activists slipped off the Esperanza - which we knew would be monitored - and boarded a ferry in Aberdeen bound for Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.

Then this morning, at a sign that the drill ship was about to move, they started the action.


Victor, one of the climbers, describes what it's like on the Stena Carron's anchor chain

The ship is operated by oil giant Chevron, and was due to sail for a site 200km north of the Shetland Islands and drill a well in 500 metres of water.

More than 10,000 of us have sent an email to Chris Huhne - the Energy Secretary - calling for a moratorium on deepwater drilling in UK waters.  On top of that, last month we sent a letter to the government threatening legal action in an effort to stop the granting of new permits for deep water drilling.

But it's not enough. Deepwater drilling is continuing unabated.

We saw what happened in the Gulf of Mexico only a few months ago. The world's biggest oil spill - a direct consequence of reckless deepwater drilling. It's time we go beyond oil and stop gambling with our environment and the climate.

Follow the latest at and find out how you too can take action.

Keep it up guys I wish I could be with you. Chevron are corporate scum and shouldn't be allowed to drill oil anywhere until they do the right thing and clean up their mess in Ecuador.

I want to know what alternatives to oil and gas you are advocating for practical purposes not just utopian dreaming: For Energy: you don't like coal and nuclear power stations, we shouldn't touch the peat bogs, wind farms endanger wildlife - and those farms offshore would need to be maintained by fuel guzzling ships won't they? Or are you proposing spoiling the beautiful rural landscape with huge farms? .... How about we lay all the roads, pavements and roofs with solar panels to generate enough power for an all electric UK? Yeah that will work. Oil is used in so many of our everyday items, I'd estimate that 90% of what you have onboard your ship and in your offices has an oil connection of some kind. You may as well be asking us to breath shallower to reduce our carbon footprint.

Well said Paul! I know someone on this rig - it doesn't even have a licence yet, the Governmemnt has beaten Greenpeace to it!

Great work Greenpeace, and about time someone got out there to confront the ever more reckless behaviour of the oil industry. As to 'what to do instead of oil' then isn't that's kind of the point? that Greenpeace confronts the oil industry at sea to create the public awareness and the political pressure to develop and use some of the solutions. In terms of those solutions then IMO we need to develop big and small scale renewable projects, from the Thames Array to community owned wind turbines. If we're going to subsidise an industry and all that off shore expertise then let's use it to develop wave technologies. there's some really interesting projects in the UK, that are dying due to lack of funding. And yes ships run on oil, but let's look forward to a future where that is no longer necessary, rather than once again wheeling out the same tired old arguments to criticise the people who are trying to do something about the problem. John

What projects are failing? No one has come up with a sensible alternative to oil - and those that come close still use Oil in their manufacture. There is lots of heavily subsidised research attempting to find alternatives to oil. Relax, it'll run out in 20 or so years anyway. Oh, and the research is being subsidised by energy firms! (that's the oil and gas industry, incase you didn't realise)

Platforms are permanent offshore structures. Drilling rigs are semi permanent - eg Jack-ups, Semi-submersibles. Drill ships are exactly that - they are SHIPS. Both of these last two are used for the development of existing wells and/ or exploration of new wells. These terms are not interchangable. During the article above you have managed to use all three terms for the same vessel. I'd also like to clarify that you MUST have a LICENCE before you can go ahead with any development in the North Sea. The UK, Irish and Norwegian governments issue these during 'Licencing Rounds' months sometimes years ahead of any company sanctioning a project. It is a DRILLING CONSENT that is required before drilling can commence.

Well said Pau11ne, The only reason Greenpeace were able to board the DRILLSHIP was because it was waiting for validation of the permit to drill. Chevron are in the process of doing exactly what Greenpeace say they want: satisying all the relevant local and government parties they are able to fulfill the recomendations of the bp Macondo Deepwater horizon report before they start drilling operations. Greenpeace have achieved exactly nothing by this latest action, except waste hard earned funds and have not delayed the ship at all.

I will in part agree with John 'Emptyhand', I think alternative fuels should be discussed and public awareness of them raised. I don't begrudge Greenpeace publicising their cause and opinions. But wouldn't Greenpeace be better using their hard earned funds on major advertising campaigns or engaging first hand with the public (like they already do at music festivals) rather than using these funds to buy oil from these conglomerates? This form of action only invites criticism by consuming the very fuel they are trying to get us all to give up. An alternative would be for Greenpeace to sponsor a major project and show that it can work. Wouldn't proving the sceptics wrong be the best publicity?

Thanks for the points on nomenclature Pau11ne, we'll be more precise in future. As far as we understand, the ship is preparing to drill, so that's why we've taken action to stop it. We're not as good at promoting solutions as perhaps we should be, but hopefully we're getting better at it. Although shouting 'hypocrites' because we use oil is kind of missing the point - as has been pointed out before on these pages, by staff members and others, we're all dependent on oil so anything we do is going to consume it. That don't believe that invalidates what we're trying to do. web editor gpuk

By the time the oil runs out, we'll have put so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that we'll all be screwed. If we stop drilling for new oil now, then they'll be some left in a 100 years time for all the other uses for the stuff, which aren't quite as dumb as burning it.

Interesting piece on the UK governments cuts in energy research here: But to be honest if you type the words 'renewable energy' and 'cuts' into google you'll find a 100 articles saying the same thing The government talks the talk on tackling climate change and moving to a more independant energy future, and then does the opposite. As to oil companies investing in renewables, who are you trying to kid? BP/Shell and all have slashed their investments, and undoubtably now spend more on advertising their 'green' image than in earning it. The little they do spend is also dwarfed by the huge amount of money they spend prospecting for new oil, and developing the technology to go into even more dangerous places to find it. So its time to start treating these irresponsible companies like the pariahs they are, making obscene profits out of destroying the ecosystems future generations need to survive.

I'm glad you are doing this. Just emailed Mr Huhne to say so. Shame you have to still be doing it - I was there with Greenpeace in the 1990s when we were doing much the same thing. There's already too much carbon in circulation and the longer governments go on licensing more exploration, the less chance there is of making a rapid switch away from fossil fuels. As one time politician Denis Healey said "when in a hole, first stop digging". good luck.

The problem is at this moment in time, our government is trying to make bucks quick off the oil licensing, to pay off our credit crisis debt. They don't want to make the change too quick. In addition, the international corporations have won too much hold over global economy - like the banks had before falling. They essentially blackmail the government. It's up to all of us to try and point out the alternatives to the Government. If they spent the money they are planning on spending on refurbing Trident, they could begin to supply our energy through renewables. If we get into renewable energy, we become independent from the international corporations, we won't be blackmailed by their economy. Alternatives: Facts: ~ There is enough roof space in the UK that, were it to be solar panelled, would supply ALL our electricity needs. ~ The BWEA (British Wind Energy Association) says offshore wind farms could produce 3 TIMES OVER the annual electricity needs of the UK and land-based farms could produce 5 TIMES. ~ The BWEA also says Tidal power could produce excess energy. So, even if we solar-pannelled only 30% of houses in the UK, built some more windfarms and some tidal, we could achieve energy security. It would create millions of jobs (think of all those engineering students leaving university and now unemployed) involving using cutting edge technology - all the solar panels, wind farms and tidal have to be designed and built, set up, maintained, developed... sounds like mass emplyment to me. Ecological Energy security is one of the answers to the credit crisis - and a crucial answer to Global Warming.

So what is the alternative to oil? What do Greenpeace suggest the Oil companies actually do? They are oil companies and mining for oil is what they do. What do you propose as a solution? I suggest that Greenpeace donates the cost involved in mounting such ludicrous stunts to the people who are conducting research in Compressed Air technology instead of burning several thousand pounds worth of fuel to reach the drill ship to stop them from mining for the same fuel which you needed to reach them in the first place!

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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