We're in the Arctic to end deepwater oil drilling

Posted by tracy - 23 August 2010 at 2:09pm - Comments

This morning we've heard from Ben on board our ship Esperanza that they are currently anchored about 2km from the deepwater drilling rig Stena Don in the Davis Straits between Canada and Greenland. The crew left London 12 days ago to confront dangerous deepwater drilling in the Arctic and today they've been met by a Danish warship and warned that the ship will be raided and the captain arrested if the ship breaches the 500m security zone surrounding each of the rigs.

But it's a UK company that has come to one of the most remote and harsh environments on the planet in pursuit of the last drops of oil. Cairn Energy is currently drilling two wells off the west coast of Greenland and has plans for two more wells in the area before the end of the summer. And now they are being protected by the Danish equivalent of the navy Seals. The crew on the ship have told us they've seen three navy inflatable boats in the waters around the rig.

It's not the oil rigs that need protecting. We all saw the risks of deepwater drilling with BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The risks in the colder waters of the Arctic are of a different magnitude. The freezing waters mean that any oil spilt takes much longer to break down. Also, the annual freezing of the sea means any 'relief well' would take up to three years to drill, leaving the oil gushing out for all that time.

Then there's the icebergs. Cairn is employing small ships to drag icebergs out of the way of their rigs, but that only works for small icebergs. When they get big, you've got to move the rigs - fast. Deepwater drilling in the Arctic is a disaster waiting to happen.

The Arctic is a barometer of the health of the planet. It's home to some of the world's most distinctive mammals like polar bears, walruses, caribou, narwhals and beluga whales. It supports millions of migratory and resident birds. The Arctic also plays a major role in the regulation of the global climate by acting like a giant reflective shield limiting the amount of sun and heat absorbed by the Earth.

But this is bigger than the Arctic. The oil industry's relentless hunt for oil has much larger consequences. If we burn every last barrel of oil we're set for a six degree rise in global average temperatures.  This would have cataclysmic and irreversible consequences for our planet threatening oceans, forests, wildlife and the basis of human civilization.

As a society we're dependent oil. We know it's going to take time to make the transition away to a fully clean energy future and that there will be hurdles along the way. But one thing is for certain: companies like Cairn Energy who chase the last drops of oil at any environmental cost are pushing us in the wrong direction. It's time to go beyond oil.

Because the ship has now moved within the Arctic Circle, internet access is patchy. But we'll keep you up to date as we hear from Lisa and the rest of the crew.

In the meantime we need you to contact Cairn Energy as well and tell CEO Bill Gammell to stop drilling in the Arctic.

“There is something that bothers me. And that is whether there are links between the reports of hungry Greenlandic children who go to bed without having eaten, is linked to the sealhunter families have lost their only income; sealskin sale, and have trouble support their families. They live on one of the most expensive countries to live, and they were already in the low incom area before the global shutdown of there bussiness.
Theese poor children has put Greenland in bad light in the eyes of the world. Greenpeace HAS a very big problem, and the issue goes on an on for theese families up to to day also. Greenpeace. Welcome to the real life as it is in Greenland.
If you are not among them who comes with real alternatives to sealhunterfamilies new income, then maybe oil is the answer to feed theese families? Perhaps Greenpeace complicit in Greenland must go out and find new and risky livelihoods?
I wil tell you the truth: You are against forces who build the North sea oilrigs and those in the Mexican gulf. You could not prevent the construction of these oilrigs, why should you succed in Greenland? Every each and one oilrig in the North sea is a potential oildisaster candidate to the coast of skandinavien and Europe. Why did you just sail by theese?

If I have issues about oildrilling i deep water, I prefer to listen and coorperate with other indipented organisations rather than Greenpease. Greenpease have played its role in Greenland. And thats a common vieu in Greenland. Greenland is an country with huge use of GREEN hydropower.

“40 years with a huge oildrilling history in Greenland. Aal dry. Dozens of oildrillings up through the 70, 80 and 90 ties. Why did Greenpeace wait in 40 years? ”
Posted August 22, 2010 at 3:31 AM Flag abuse

Vh. Knud Seblon, Nuuk Greenland

I agree with the target of this campaign, but not the strategy-

direct action in this case can only be a publicity stunt, which is FINE, but that can only be effective after publicising why you're doing it to the general public -that doesn't include preaching to the choir thru the newsletter, you need to get grassroots volunteers out on the streets distributing information and collecting signatures to deliver to MPs and ministers.

Secondly, I agree with Knud -uk environmentalist charities are too shortsighted about small-scale traditional sustainable hunting - Nordic environmentalists as far as I know are in favour of traditional small-scale hunting as a sustainable livelihood, and having spent several months in Norway and travelled in the North around Lofoten, I agree with them.

There is a valid debate to be had about methods of hunting -using traditional hunting weapons has both advantages and disadvantages -obviously it's less quick and painless than a bullet to the back of the skull, but on the other hand deliberately limiting hunting methods allowed to traditional weapons and dog sleds rather than snowmobiles helps keep it at a low level that won't threaten seal, walrus or whale populations.

The essential reason why the kind of hunting still practiced in the Arctic is good is that it means people are continuously aware in the most practical ways that they are absolutely dependent on nature, so instinctively they're more likely to take care of the natural environment they live in for their own survival and their offspring's survival and happiness.

Any activity that maintains a direct awareness of our absolute dependence on nature is a good thing.

I think the reason UK environmentalist charities tend to be anti-hunting is because the kind of hunting mostly practiced in the UK is completely different -it's a social status thing, totally impractical for hunting for food, not about closeness to nature at all. I agree fox hunting should be banned, but deer stalking as long as it's all eaten not wasted, is ok.

If you are not among them who comes with real alternatives to sealhunterfamilies new income, then maybe oil is the answer to feed theese families? Perhaps Greenpeace complicit in Greenland must go out and find new and risky livelihoods?
movingtoquotes.com

I think it is great that Greenpeace are doing this, thank-you Greenpeace for being some of the only people brave enough to stand up for what is right!

To be honest I think that keeping ships 500m away from the rig is probably sensible under the circumstances, the the idea that they are continuing to drill in these kind of situations is utter madness.

I cannot believe they plan move icebergs out of the way with boats in the long term.

I think you will find they are banking on the ice caps melting.

When there is no ice, then they can get at the oil, and the remaining fish stocks and exhaust them. They will be able to open a noth west passage through the newly opened seas and turn it into a shipping lane. Soon after that no doubt we will have an artic garbage patch like the one in the pacific.

Its completely insane. We are going to run out of oil at some point. It would be prudent to save a little bit for plastics industries in the future, plastics would probably be quite useful to future generations. We are throwing the stuff away like there is no tomorrow, literally, I can see future generations being unable to produce medical equipment etc for lack of the stuff, though perhaps they will be able to recycle our old refuse.

I think the idea of killing the remaining fish stocks of is dreadful. There is an opportunity to let those stocks re-populate the areas we have already decimated... but no the reverse looks set to happen.

As for deep water drilling itself... its just lunacy.

Its time politically and economically to start reducing dependency on oil. The issue has to be faced at some point, its a finite resource. It would make sense to start tackling that issue now, well, it would have made sense to start tackling it 25 years ago.

@Knud Seblon: I forwarded your comment to Jon Burgwald, a Greenpeace campaigner from Denmark who's on board the Esperanza, who sent back this response:

Greenpeace is far from the only organisation opposing deep water drilling off the coast of Greenland. Greenlandic based organisations such as Avataq, the fishers organisation KNAPK, the chair of fishers and hunters in Nuuk and the global Inuit-organisation ICC have all opposed these drillings because they are afraid it will ruin the Greenland nature and economy. Today approximately 80 % of Greenland export comes from fishing. A oil, like the one we have watched in the Mexican Gulf poses a huge risk to Greenland economy.

Greenpeace already back in the Eighties went out with Great Greenland to state that we was not against the seal hunt in Greenland, and we have since then brought this issue up a numerous amount of times.

There is however no doubt that the Greenpeace campaign back in the Seventies unintentionally hit Greenland hunters very hard. But to blame a 30 year old campaign for all of Greenland's troubles, does not seem right. The problems in Greenland is a complex without any easy answer.

It is however clear that the effects of a spill would worsen the situation considerably - and that Greenpeace is not alone with that viewpoint.

No alternatives are provided from Greenpeace to the Greenlandic seal hunters?
Then maybe oil is the answer. Greenpeace is currently too involved in internal Greenland affairs just go with protests, but is bound to come up with real alternatives for new income opportunities for seale hunters.
Many Greenlanders are against the presence of Greenpeace in Greenland, why it is important for Greenland to find other alternatives to Greenpeace. It is one of the major controversies in life to find people living so extremely under the laws of the nature and its conditions be against a green movement.

Secondly:
If Greenpeace will help Greenland, then there were a chance for it in the 70´s and 80´s where an unusual big exploitation took place make by foreign mining companies, where also an extensive pollution of the sea took place in Mamorilik mine. Greenpeace took no affair, but instead gave Greenland a global elimination of a sealhunters profession.

Thirdly,
I do not agree that Greenland's economy is complicated. It is one of the world's smallest where only 10 to 20 jobs have great influence in a small settlement.

Sorry for my line of opinios.
I have now read the Greenlandic newspaper mentioning SIK, labor movement, what they can not understand why the Greenland government has said no to uranium, but given a yes to oil. This have tie directly to the internal party truggles in Greenland. But after a briefing about the safety of oil drilling SIK is more confident now. KNAPK organization of fishermen are in direct confrontation with Greenpeace. Avataq. which is an environmental organization in Greenland, is that organisation Greenland should listen to. Many in Greenland has boycuttet Greenpeace. ICC is the organisation with close ties to the seal hunterfamilies, so I don´t have to mentioned where opinion about Greenpeace, but this is also an indepented organisation Greenland have and will use . ICC can be aware of the nature i Greenland.

All drilling operations offshore are dangerous as the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has proven! How ever people must be reasonable and keep things in perspective. The disaster in the Gulf was caused by greed over safety and could of been prevented. They where not working beyond their limitations. As Cairn are not Operating beyond their limitations either. Many safety procedures are in place to prevent such a disaster happening like in the gulf. For example, if an Iceburg comes with in the 5 mile zone of the rig the well can be shut in and made safe, the rig can latch of and move to safety within more than enough time. I mean the article makes out that these Iceburgs travel as fast as a speed boat when in reality even when they enter the 5 mile zone they would still take a whole day or more to come anywhere near the rigs! Also the iceburg handlers are highly experienced and more than capable of dealing with the iceburgs safely and efficiently.

Also the safety record in the North sea in regards to oil spills is commendable. Hundreds of drilling operations take place every year in the North sea and all over the world with out incident and thousands of drilling operations over the decades have taken place with out incident! If it was as dangerous as the ill informed journalists make out in the video then know one would work on-board these rigs I mean do you really think people are that stupid that if they honestly thought their lives where in imminent danger that they wouldn't leave? I think Greenpeace really need to get educated about the actual drilling procedures of a well and the dangers involved instead of scaremongering and working people up un necessarily based on their limited knowledge of the oil industry.

Also I think it's a bit hypocritical given that the fuel guzzling ship they are protesting on is probably fueled by the very oil that they are trying to prevent from being drilled. I ask how will Green peace conduct their protest if it where not for oil! I mean if Green peace got their way and we stopped exploration and producing of oil how would they protest given they would have no oil to fuel their ships, rowing boats?

Also Greenland's fishing industry is suffering and in decline the people are struggling to make ends meet and to keep food on the table, the oil industry as it has done in so many countries would provide Greenland's people with Jobs security and more importantly a future for generations to come!

I am on neither side however I must protest at ill informed scaremongering style journalism. I mean are seriously expecting a gulf of Mexico sized disaster now every time a rig commences drilling?? The answer is NO! As I stated earlier keep things in perspective.

One last thing I hope the protesters hitch goes safely and with out incident the safety of the people is what is of utmost importance after all.

“There is something that bothers me. And that is whether there are links between the reports of hungry Greenlandic children who go to bed without having eaten, is linked to the sealhunter families have lost their only income; sealskin sale, and have trouble support their families. They live on one of the most expensive countries to live, and they were already in the low incom area before the global shutdown of there bussiness. Theese poor children has put Greenland in bad light in the eyes of the world. Greenpeace HAS a very big problem, and the issue goes on an on for theese families up to to day also. Greenpeace. Welcome to the real life as it is in Greenland. If you are not among them who comes with real alternatives to sealhunterfamilies new income, then maybe oil is the answer to feed theese families? Perhaps Greenpeace complicit in Greenland must go out and find new and risky livelihoods? I wil tell you the truth: You are against forces who build the North sea oilrigs and those in the Mexican gulf. You could not prevent the construction of these oilrigs, why should you succed in Greenland? Every each and one oilrig in the North sea is a potential oildisaster candidate to the coast of skandinavien and Europe. Why did you just sail by theese? If I have issues about oildrilling i deep water, I prefer to listen and coorperate with other indipented organisations rather than Greenpease. Greenpease have played its role in Greenland. And thats a common vieu in Greenland. Greenland is an country with huge use of GREEN hydropower. “40 years with a huge oildrilling history in Greenland. Aal dry. Dozens of oildrillings up through the 70, 80 and 90 ties. Why did Greenpeace wait in 40 years? ” Posted August 22, 2010 at 3:31 AM Flag abuse Vh. Knud Seblon, Nuuk Greenland

I agree with the target of this campaign, but not the strategy- direct action in this case can only be a publicity stunt, which is FINE, but that can only be effective after publicising why you're doing it to the general public -that doesn't include preaching to the choir thru the newsletter, you need to get grassroots volunteers out on the streets distributing information and collecting signatures to deliver to MPs and ministers. Secondly, I agree with Knud -uk environmentalist charities are too shortsighted about small-scale traditional sustainable hunting - Nordic environmentalists as far as I know are in favour of traditional small-scale hunting as a sustainable livelihood, and having spent several months in Norway and travelled in the North around Lofoten, I agree with them. There is a valid debate to be had about methods of hunting -using traditional hunting weapons has both advantages and disadvantages -obviously it's less quick and painless than a bullet to the back of the skull, but on the other hand deliberately limiting hunting methods allowed to traditional weapons and dog sleds rather than snowmobiles helps keep it at a low level that won't threaten seal, walrus or whale populations. The essential reason why the kind of hunting still practiced in the Arctic is good is that it means people are continuously aware in the most practical ways that they are absolutely dependent on nature, so instinctively they're more likely to take care of the natural environment they live in for their own survival and their offspring's survival and happiness. Any activity that maintains a direct awareness of our absolute dependence on nature is a good thing. I think the reason UK environmentalist charities tend to be anti-hunting is because the kind of hunting mostly practiced in the UK is completely different -it's a social status thing, totally impractical for hunting for food, not about closeness to nature at all. I agree fox hunting should be banned, but deer stalking as long as it's all eaten not wasted, is ok.

If you are not among them who comes with real alternatives to sealhunterfamilies new income, then maybe oil is the answer to feed theese families? Perhaps Greenpeace complicit in Greenland must go out and find new and risky livelihoods? movingtoquotes.com

I think it is great that Greenpeace are doing this, thank-you Greenpeace for being some of the only people brave enough to stand up for what is right!

To be honest I think that keeping ships 500m away from the rig is probably sensible under the circumstances, the the idea that they are continuing to drill in these kind of situations is utter madness. I cannot believe they plan move icebergs out of the way with boats in the long term. I think you will find they are banking on the ice caps melting. When there is no ice, then they can get at the oil, and the remaining fish stocks and exhaust them. They will be able to open a noth west passage through the newly opened seas and turn it into a shipping lane. Soon after that no doubt we will have an artic garbage patch like the one in the pacific. Its completely insane. We are going to run out of oil at some point. It would be prudent to save a little bit for plastics industries in the future, plastics would probably be quite useful to future generations. We are throwing the stuff away like there is no tomorrow, literally, I can see future generations being unable to produce medical equipment etc for lack of the stuff, though perhaps they will be able to recycle our old refuse. I think the idea of killing the remaining fish stocks of is dreadful. There is an opportunity to let those stocks re-populate the areas we have already decimated... but no the reverse looks set to happen. As for deep water drilling itself... its just lunacy. Its time politically and economically to start reducing dependency on oil. The issue has to be faced at some point, its a finite resource. It would make sense to start tackling that issue now, well, it would have made sense to start tackling it 25 years ago.

@Knud Seblon: I forwarded your comment to Jon Burgwald, a Greenpeace campaigner from Denmark who's on board the Esperanza, who sent back this response: Greenpeace is far from the only organisation opposing deep water drilling off the coast of Greenland. Greenlandic based organisations such as Avataq, the fishers organisation KNAPK, the chair of fishers and hunters in Nuuk and the global Inuit-organisation ICC have all opposed these drillings because they are afraid it will ruin the Greenland nature and economy. Today approximately 80 % of Greenland export comes from fishing. A oil, like the one we have watched in the Mexican Gulf poses a huge risk to Greenland economy. Greenpeace already back in the Eighties went out with Great Greenland to state that we was not against the seal hunt in Greenland, and we have since then brought this issue up a numerous amount of times. There is however no doubt that the Greenpeace campaign back in the Seventies unintentionally hit Greenland hunters very hard. But to blame a 30 year old campaign for all of Greenland's troubles, does not seem right. The problems in Greenland is a complex without any easy answer. It is however clear that the effects of a spill would worsen the situation considerably - and that Greenpeace is not alone with that viewpoint.

No alternatives are provided from Greenpeace to the Greenlandic seal hunters? Then maybe oil is the answer. Greenpeace is currently too involved in internal Greenland affairs just go with protests, but is bound to come up with real alternatives for new income opportunities for seale hunters. Many Greenlanders are against the presence of Greenpeace in Greenland, why it is important for Greenland to find other alternatives to Greenpeace. It is one of the major controversies in life to find people living so extremely under the laws of the nature and its conditions be against a green movement.

Secondly: If Greenpeace will help Greenland, then there were a chance for it in the 70´s and 80´s where an unusual big exploitation took place make by foreign mining companies, where also an extensive pollution of the sea took place in Mamorilik mine. Greenpeace took no affair, but instead gave Greenland a global elimination of a sealhunters profession.

Thirdly, I do not agree that Greenland's economy is complicated. It is one of the world's smallest where only 10 to 20 jobs have great influence in a small settlement.

Sorry for my line of opinios. I have now read the Greenlandic newspaper mentioning SIK, labor movement, what they can not understand why the Greenland government has said no to uranium, but given a yes to oil. This have tie directly to the internal party truggles in Greenland. But after a briefing about the safety of oil drilling SIK is more confident now. KNAPK organization of fishermen are in direct confrontation with Greenpeace. Avataq. which is an environmental organization in Greenland, is that organisation Greenland should listen to. Many in Greenland has boycuttet Greenpeace. ICC is the organisation with close ties to the seal hunterfamilies, so I don´t have to mentioned where opinion about Greenpeace, but this is also an indepented organisation Greenland have and will use . ICC can be aware of the nature i Greenland.

All drilling operations offshore are dangerous as the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has proven! How ever people must be reasonable and keep things in perspective. The disaster in the Gulf was caused by greed over safety and could of been prevented. They where not working beyond their limitations. As Cairn are not Operating beyond their limitations either. Many safety procedures are in place to prevent such a disaster happening like in the gulf. For example, if an Iceburg comes with in the 5 mile zone of the rig the well can be shut in and made safe, the rig can latch of and move to safety within more than enough time. I mean the article makes out that these Iceburgs travel as fast as a speed boat when in reality even when they enter the 5 mile zone they would still take a whole day or more to come anywhere near the rigs! Also the iceburg handlers are highly experienced and more than capable of dealing with the iceburgs safely and efficiently. Also the safety record in the North sea in regards to oil spills is commendable. Hundreds of drilling operations take place every year in the North sea and all over the world with out incident and thousands of drilling operations over the decades have taken place with out incident! If it was as dangerous as the ill informed journalists make out in the video then know one would work on-board these rigs I mean do you really think people are that stupid that if they honestly thought their lives where in imminent danger that they wouldn't leave? I think Greenpeace really need to get educated about the actual drilling procedures of a well and the dangers involved instead of scaremongering and working people up un necessarily based on their limited knowledge of the oil industry. Also I think it's a bit hypocritical given that the fuel guzzling ship they are protesting on is probably fueled by the very oil that they are trying to prevent from being drilled. I ask how will Green peace conduct their protest if it where not for oil! I mean if Green peace got their way and we stopped exploration and producing of oil how would they protest given they would have no oil to fuel their ships, rowing boats? Also Greenland's fishing industry is suffering and in decline the people are struggling to make ends meet and to keep food on the table, the oil industry as it has done in so many countries would provide Greenland's people with Jobs security and more importantly a future for generations to come! I am on neither side however I must protest at ill informed scaremongering style journalism. I mean are seriously expecting a gulf of Mexico sized disaster now every time a rig commences drilling?? The answer is NO! As I stated earlier keep things in perspective. One last thing I hope the protesters hitch goes safely and with out incident the safety of the people is what is of utmost importance after all.

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