Published June 04, 2011
STOCKHOLM – Police have arrested 14 Greenpeace activists who climbed aboard an oil rig off Greenland's coast to protest deepwater drilling in the Arctic.
Four Greenpeace members are still onboard the Leiv Eiriksson oil rig, where they have locked themselves in two separate crane cabins, police and the environmental group said Saturday.
The rig is operated by Scottish oil group Cairn Energy, which has temporarily suspended its drilling due to the protest.
Police spokesman Morten Nielsen said those arrested will be taken to Nuuk, the semiautonomous Danish territory's capital, and kept in detention. "I'm not sure whether we're making more arrests today," he said.
The activists launched five inflatable boats from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza early Saturday, bypassing the Danish navy and scaling the giant rig to demand that the company publish its plan for managing a potential oil spill in the freezing waters.
Greenpeace says Cairn Energy is not taking enough precautions to avoid accidents like the BP's Gulf of Mexico blowout last year, saying the remoteness and the freezing temperatures in the area would make any spill cleanup extremely difficult.
Cairn insisted that it "seeks to operate in a safe and prudent manner" and that Greenland authorities have established stringent operating regulations similar to those in the North Sea. It also said it has developed "an extensive emergency response and oil spill response plan" but that is not publicly available after a decision by Greenland authorities.
Cairn last month won permission to drill up to seven oil exploration wells off the Arctic island's west coast.
Greenland's government has called the Greenpeace action a publicity stunt that comes at the expense of Greenland's "legitimate right" to develop its economy.
Earlier this week, two Greenpeace activists were arrested under the rig, hanging just a few meters from the drill-bit and preventing Cairn from starting drilling for four days.
Greenpeace says it has received a legal summons from Cairn's lawyers for having cost the company up to $4 million for every day it could not drill and could face substantial fines for the security breaches. The lawsuit will be heard Monday in a Dutch court.