Greenpeace blocks Shell icebreaker

2012-05-04 18:01
Stockholm - Greenpeace activists halted an icebreaker headed for the Arctic for a third time this week, in a bid to block plans by Anglo Dutch giant Shell to drill for oil in the region, the environmental group said on Friday.

"Overnight, Greenpeace activists held up the Nordica icebreaker for three hours [in waters between Denmark and Germany] by circling the vessel with their rubber speed boats," said Therese Jacobson, who is responsible for Arctic issues at Greenpeace.

The 14 activists from Sweden, Denmark, Germany and New Zealand then followed the Finnish icebreaker and around 09:00 (07:00 GMT) caught up with it again.

"They are now painting on its hull," Jacobsen said, adding that so far no attempts had been made to board the vessel again.

The Nordica is under contract to Shell with another icebreaker, the Fennica, to provide support for an operation to drill five exploratory wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas respectively, Greenpeace says.

Some 40 Greenpeace demonstrators were detained on Tuesday after they tried to block the Nordic from leaving Helsinki, and on Thursday, Swedish police detained six more activists after they boarded the icebreaker in the middle of the Baltic Sea and chained themselves to the ship.

Nordica's sister ship, the Fennica, left Helsinki in March.

Environmentalists have pointed to the vastly complicated task of drilling in the harsh Arctic environment, the difficulty of effectively cleaning up any spills in such conditions, and the risks posed to wildlife and native communities in the region's fragile ecosystem.

Read more on:    shell  |  greenpeace  |  environment
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