Greenpeace activists spend night on Shell rig being transported across the Pacific

San Francisco: The half dozen Greenpeace activists who on Monday boarded a Shell oil rig being transported across the Pacific to the Arctic, safely endured their first night ensconced in a makeshift camp on the vessel.

Braving the cold, the six are encamped on a small catwalk beneath the main deck of the Polar Pioneer where they slept in hammocks.

The group plans to stay on the rig “for the long haul,” one of the group, New Zealander Johno Smith, told NZME via satellite phone.

Their intention is to unfurl a banner to protest against Shell’s planned Arctic offshore drilling but they have no plans to interfere with the ship’s navigations.

Using social media the activists on the rig and aboard their home ship the Esperanza are maintaining maximum exposure and keeping their supporters abreast of developments.

The successful boarding happened 750 miles northwest of Hawaii and followed several days in which the Esperanza had tracked the Blue Marlin heavy-lift vessel which is carrying the 38,000-tonne Polar Pioneer. It was achieved using inflatable craft and climbing gear.

The Polar Pioneer left Malaysia in early March and will head to Alaska after a stop in Seattle where Shell’s Arctic fleet will be moored.

It is one of two drill rigs Shell hopes to use for exploratory drilling in summer in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast, provided certain permits are granted.

But last week’s announcement by the US Department of the Interior to affirm a 2008 government auction of oil lease in Alaskan waters made it likelier Shell will get their wish. It was that decision that sent Greenpeace’s protest action into full gear.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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