(Fixes typo in headline)
OSLO May 27 Activists from environmental group
Greenpeace have climbed aboard an oil drilling rig in the
Norwegian Arctic on Tuesday, trying to stop Statoil's
exploration plans in one of the world's northernmost prospects,
the group said on Tuesday.
Greenpeace, which regularly calls Norwegian state-owned
Statoil an 'Arctic aggressor', said plans to drill in the Hoop
area of the Barents Sea threaten Bear Island, an uninhabited
wildlife sanctuary which is home to rare species and
occasionally to polar bears.
Oil firms are drilling further north in Norway than ever
before as the Arctic ice retreats and recent regulation changes
let firms work in areas where winter ice was common just decades
Greenpeace climbed the rig, owned by Transocean, in
the early morning hours, hung banners like 'No Arctic Oil' and
'Stop Statoil's Arctic Race', and said they were prepared to
stay on the rig for days.
The move comes just weeks after Greenpeace tried
unsuccessfully in Rotterdam to block the delivery of Russia's
first oil from its Prirazlomanaya oil platform in the Arctic
The platform was briefly occupied by Greenpeace activists
last year before they were arrested by Russian military forces
and charged with piracy, carrying a potential prison term of
decades, but released under an amnesty initiated by President
Statoil called the latest move illegal and irresponsible and
rejected Greenpeace's claims about safety.
"Hoop is an area with known geology, low pressure and
temperature, and where Statoil has robust plans for the
"An oil spill is very unlikely, at the same time we have put
in place a number of barriers to be able to handle a situation
should it occur," the company said.
The rig is currently in transit to the Hoop area where it
has permission to start drilling in the Apollo prospect.
However, it cannot drill into oil-bearing rock because a
complaint from Greenpeace is pending.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Greg Mahlich)