The gallery, home to thousands of paintings including masterpieces by Georges Seurat, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci, is this evening hosting an event for energy giant Shell, who is planning to drill for oil in the Arctic this summer.
The campaigners, from Greenpeace, are preparing to drop a 40 metre square banner, which has a picture of an oil rig and the words ’It’s No Oil Painting’, down the front of the gallery.
Hannah Davey from Greenpeace, who is currently on the roof of the National Gallery, said:
“Shell is using the National Gallery this evening to try and impress people they’ve invited along. But, at the same time, they’re planning to drill for oil in the freezing Arctic, our planet’s last wild ocean. The Arctic’s coastlines are home to indigenous people, and its waters nurture polar bears, beluga whales and walruses.
“We’re here to tell Shell, and their guests, that oil companies have to keep out of the Arctic. The region is too fragile to risk an oil spill that experts say would be almost impossible to clean up.”
Shell is the first major international oil company to make exploitation of the Arctic a key focus. If the company strikes oil this summer, it is feared that other global oil giants will join them in drilling in the Arctic wilderness.
The total estimated Arctic oil reserves would satisfy just three years of current global oil demand, but would contribute significantly to carbon emissions and pose a grave risk to the local eco-system (1).
1. According to the US Geological Survey the Arctic contains a maximum of 90 billion barrels of oil. Global demand is currently roughly 90 million barrels per day (mb/d); the IEA’s world energy outlook 2011 anticipates that oil demand (excluding biofuels) will rise from 87 mb/d in 2010 to 99 mb/d in 2035. By calculation, this amounts to at most three years of global oil consumption in the Arctic.