* Coastguard fires shots over Greenpeace vessel-group
* Similar protest action last year delayed operations
* Greenpeace says Russia cannot guarantee safety of rig
MOSCOW, Sept 18 Greenpeace said on Wednesday two
of its activists scaled the Prirazlomnaya oil platform in Arctic
waters in a fresh protest over the potential threat to the
environment from operations slated to start by the end of the
Production at the Gazprom-owned rig, Russia's
first such project in the Barents Sea, was delayed last year
after similar action. Gazprom put the delay down to "technical
Hydrocarbon production in its vast offshore areas is seen by
Russia as vital to maintaining oil output, the world's largest,
at no less than 10 million barrels per day this decade.
Global majors including ExxonMobil, Eni and
Statoil have agreed deals with Russia's top oil
producer Rosneft to enter the region. Their projects
are not expected to begin extracting oil before the 2020s.
Greenpeace said in an emailed statement it sent five boats
to the rig early on Wednesday. One was arrested by the Russian
coastguard which fired warning shots across the bows of its
Artic Sunrise base vessel.
It said two of its members climbed the rig and would remain
there as long as possible.
"Despite massive financing for Prirazlomnaya, it is not able
to guarantee safe production of Arctic oil," Greenpeace said.
Offshore safety concerns have grown after BP's
Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, killing 11 workers
and spewing millions barrels of oil into the Mexican Gulf.
Prirazlomnoye is the first Arctic offshore oil deposit to be
developed by Russia and is located in the Pechora Sea, a part of
the Barents Sea, 60 km (40 miles) from the northern coast.
It is expected to reach peak production of 6 million tonnes
per year (120,000 barrels per day) in 2019.
Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of state gas export
monopoly Gazprom, is expected to obtain a licence to develop the
field. It expects overall investment in the project to be around
200 billion roubles ($6 billion), of which half had already been
Gazprom Neft and Gazprom declined immediate comments.