‘We Will Not Be Silenced’: Greenpeace Boss in Court as BP’s Rig Operator Seeks Jail and Unlimited Fines Over Rig Protest


  • BP’s rig operator Transocean asks court to jail Greenpeace boss and board members for up to two years and impose unlimited fines. 
  • Greenpeace will defend its actions in face of climate emergency and challenge the legality of BP’s permit to drill in the North Sea. 
  • Greenpeace will continue to protect our planet from oil industry threats.

Court pics will be available here, rig action pics here

BP’s rig operator, Transocean, will today [MON 24] ask Scottish courts to jail Greenpeace’s boss and punish the campaigning group with huge fines.

The offshore drilling contractor is taking legal action against Greenpeace UK after activists blocked a BP rig from drilling new oil wells in the North Sea for 12 days in June last year. Transocean secured an interim interdict, with BP’s consent, which Greenpeace is accused of breaching by continuing its protest.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven faces up to two years in prison, and Greenpeace faces unlimited fines if found to be in contempt of court.

Mr Sauven said: “Six months after our rig action ended, and after getting a permanent interdict against Greenpeace, BP’s rig operator Transocean is desperately doing everything it can to scare us off.

“But we will not be silenced. We will stand up proudly in court to defend our peaceful protest.

“Stopping BP’s rig was our moral duty when faced with oil giants fuelling the climate emergency, threatening the safety of our planet and putting lives at risk.”

In Edinburgh’s Court of Session before judge Lady Wolffe, Greenpeace will argue that its actions to disrupt the BP rig were necessary in order to prevent BP from worsening our climate emergency by drilling wells to extract 30 million barrels of oil.

The world’s scientists tell us that we cannot burn all the oil and gas we already have, so any new development of oil and gas fields would be disastrous for our climate.

In a separate legal case, Greenpeace has been granted permission to judicially review BP’s drilling permit for the Vorlich oil field east of Aberdeen. Greenpeace argues that the permit is unlawful because there was no proper public consultation. The permit was never officially published by the government, which meant BP’s permit could not be challenged by the public.

BP’s new chief executive Bernard Looney has attempted to reassure campaigners that BP has turned over a new leaf on climate. However there is no change in BP’s current plans to spend $71bn on new oil and gas development this decade.

Today’s hearing is Big Oil’s latest attempt to stifle climate campaigners through legal action. In December Shell secured a ban on Greenpeace International targeting its North Sea oil rigs in the Brent field.

Shell’s lawyers are Pinsent Masons, the same law firm which is representing Transocean in today’s case.


Photos and video from outside court today are available here, and photos and video of the original BP oil rig action are available here.


Contact Greenpeace press office: 020 7865 8255 / press.uk@greenpeace.org


Notes to editors

  • Transocean owned and operated BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded in 2010 causing the death of 11 workers.
  • BP is one of the world’s biggest carbon polluters, responsible for 34bn tonnes of CO2 emissions since the 1960s
  • BP plans to spend $71bn over the next decade on new oil and gas, and 97% of its investment is in oil and gas
  • BP is planning to increase its production of oil and gas by 20% by 2030
  • The new oil well BP is drilling in the North Sea could pump up to 30m barrels of oil over the next two or three decades
  • BP is one of just 25 entities responsible for more than half of global industrial greenhouse gasses in the last 30 years

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