Greenpeace Protestors Board Arctic Rig

Credit: Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace
Credit: Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace

Shell’s Arctic drill rigs have picked up some unwelcome guests on their trip across the Pacific Ocean.

Download Audio

On Monday, six activists from Greenpeace boarded the Polar Pioneer rig. Their goal is to raise awareness about climate change, says senior Arctic campaigner Laura Kenyon.

“We as humanity really can’t afford to drill for oil in the Arctic and we can’t afford to let Shell open production in the Chukchi Sea if we want to avoid dangerous climate changes,” Kenyon said Monday.

She was speaking from the Esperanza — a rainbow-painted, 237-foot research vessel that’s been following Shell’s Arctic rigs as they head north to Washington State. Continuing that chase to Alaska isn’t out of the question.

But for now, Greenpeace wants the group that’s actually camped out on the rig to speak for itself. The activists have been outfitted with satellite phones and wireless internet, and they’ve already started posting updates about their trip on Twitter.

“The plan is to let them use this Arctic oil drilling platform as a platform for themselves — for their messages they want to send to people,” Kenyon says.

In a statement, Shell spokesperson Megan Baldino said the company values opposing viewpoints on Arctic drilling — but they don’t support “illegal tactics” like boarding a rig.

“Nor will we allow these stunts to distract from preparations underway to execute a safe and responsible exploration program,” Baldino said.

Baldino wouldn’t comment on whether Shell will seek another injunction to keep Greenpeace away from its Arctic fleet. A federal court granted Shell a restraining order in 2012 after activists climbed onto the Noble Discoverer rig in New Zealand.

The actress who portrayed TV’s “Xena, Warrior Princess” was part of that group. But this time around, Lucy Lawless is not involved.

Previous articleBethel Faces Big Decision on Local Liquor Licenses
Next articleVillages Seek Yukon, Kuskokwim Salmon Management Change