Greenpeace chases Arctic-bound rigs across the Pacific

Oslo: Greenpeace is chasing two vessels and a rig across the Pacific in a bid to stop Arctic drilling.

The charity is after the Blue Marlin owned by Dockwise – a semi-submersible heavy lift ship and its cargo, the Transocean-owned semi-submersible drilling rig Polar Pioneer. Greenpeace is also chasing the Noble Discoverer, a  drillshp built in 1976.

“Our vessel Esperanza is following the Polar Pioneer across the Pacific to shine a light on Shell’s plans for oil drilling in the Chuckchi Sea off the coast of Alaska this year.” Arctic campaigner Larissa Beumer told Splash from Germany today.

“We are also following the Noble Discoverer drillship that is also heading towards the Chuckchi Sea via Seattle for Shell’s mission, but this vessel has fallen behind the Blue Marlin,” added Beumer

Noble Discoverer is leased out to Shell until end 2016, according to Noble’s fleet status report.

Shell hopes to revive its Arctic drilling programme a few years after the grounding of a rig in Alaska that led to a huge uproar from environmental groups.

But even before getting permission to proceed from the US Shell is sending  a drill fleet to the area in anticipation of the short operation window in the summer.

The Transocean owned rig has been upgraded entirely in Singapore in advance of its contract with Shell. Shell has leased the vessel with a day rate of $620,000 for three years until 2017.

Activists could not stop the rig’s arrival at the Port of Seattle as the port authority rejected calls to cancel its arrival.  Last week the Seattle port commissioners upheld their decision to let Arctic oil-drilling rigs dock at the Port of Seattle with a 5-0  vote against making it harder for Shell  to use the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 beyond the two-year term of the lease the port approved in January.

“Shell drilling plans in the Arctic are environmentally irresponsible in all respects. Shell has already shown that it does not have the capacity to operate in the Arctic. We all could see this when the drilling rig Kulluk ran aground in 2012. Now we hope the US government says no to more drilling in the Arctic,” said communications manager Johan Hammerstom from Greenpeace Norway.


Hans Thaulow

Hans Henrik Thaulow is an Oslo-based journalist who has been covering the shipping industry for the last 15 years. As well as some work for the Informa Group, Hans was the China correspondent for TradeWinds. He also contributes to Maritime CEO magazine. Hans’ shipping background extends to working as a shipbroker trainee with Simpson, Spence & Young in Hong Kong.
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