Greenpeace ship forces BP oil rig into THIRD U-turn away from major North Sea drill site

Publication date: 18th June 2019

Greenpeace activists in an inflatable boat with banners on day 10 of the BP rig occupation in the North Sea. Credit: Greenpeace.

Pictures and video of the Arctic Sunrise and the rig occupation here

Tuesday 18 June, 2pm – Greenpeace activists have forced the third U-turn of a BP-operated rig away from a major oil drilling site in the North Sea, blocking the oil giant’s operation for the 10th day in a row.

Just a few miles from the drilling site and having travelled more than 500 nautical miles back and forth since Saturday, the rig performed yet another U-turn and is now heading back towards the shore.

Two rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBS) have been deployed from Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, with activists on board holding banners reading ‘Climate Emergency’.

Since Saturday, the Arctic Sunrise has remained between the 27,000-tonne rig and the Vorlich drill field off the coast of Scotland where BP is planning to drill a new well to access 30 million barrels of oil.

Greenpeace has now successfully stopped BP from drilling the well for ten days. Climate activists held the rig in Cromarty Firth for seven days from Sunday June 9 until last Friday. On Saturday, the Arctic Sunrise arrived to pursue the oil rig as it was towed out to sea.

Eleven Greenpeace activists have been arrested so far, five appeared at Tain Sheriff Court yesterday charged with breach of the peace and were released on bail. Three freelance photographers were also arrested but subsequently released.

Sarah North, Greenpeace International climate activist on the Arctic Sunrise, said:

“This oil rig is stuck in a loop, much like BP’s business model but we’re not here to play games. There’s only one U-turn BP urgently needs to make and that’s away from climate-wrecking oil and towards renewable energy.

“There is a growing global movement calling for an end to the oil age for the sake of our health, our planet and our future. We’re determined to use every peaceful means available to stop this rig.”

Despite BP claiming that its business is compatible with the Paris climate agreement, Greenpeace argues BP’s operations are in direct opposition to efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change. Evidence for this includes:

  • Despite scientists warning that existing oil and gas reserves already exceed what we can safely burn, BP is seeking to expand its operations in the Gulf of Mexico while welcoming President Trump’s move to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drillers;
  • BP is outspending other oil majors on efforts to lobby against climate action. An investigation by Unearthed revealed BP successfully lobbied the Trump administration to weaken regulations that would have prevented the release of millions of tonnes of the potent greenhouse gas methane;
  • BP capital expenditure remains heavily skewed towards fossil fuels. In 2018 it spent around $16 billion adding to oil and gas reserves, with $500 million – just over 3% –  being spent on alternatives to fossil fuels. As Bob Dudley admitted to the Washington Post: “If someone said, ‘Here’s $10bn to invest in renewables,’ we wouldn’t know how to do it”.

Contact: Greenpeace UK news team at press.uk@greenpeace.org or call 020 7865 8255.