Greenpeace activists block Russian oil transfer at sea

COPENHAGEN, March 31 (Reuters) - Greenpeace activists on Thursday blocked two oil tankers off the coast of Denmark from transferring 100,000 tonnes of Russian oil, in what the organization said was an attempt to stop funding Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In kayaks and rhib boats, the activists placed themselves between the oil tankers Seaoath and Pertamina Prime near Frederikshavn, Denmark, preventing the ship-to-ship oil transfer.

The Seaoath had arrived from Russia carrying 100,000 tonnes of Urals crude oil and was attempting to transfer the oil to the larger Pertamina Prime tanker, according to Greenpeace and Refinitiv ship tracking data.

Trade and shipping sources said Trafigura had chartered the Seaoath that loaded the Russian crude. Trafigura declined to comment on the specific shipment but said it condemns the war in Ukraine. Trafigura said it was not doing new oil and gas business in Russia but continues to comply with existing contracts agreed prior to the invasion.

"When we showed up, they even stopped trying," activist Gustav Martner told Reuters, sitting in a kayak next to the 330-metre Pertamina Prime supertanker. "Now, it looks like they're waiting us out."

The European Union and its allies have imposed hefty sanctions against Russia, including freezing its central bank's assets. While the United States and Britain have taken steps to ban Russian oil imports, the EU, which relies heavily on Russian energy, did not impose sanctions on Russian oil and natural gas.

Greenpeace said it had tracked 299 tankers carrying oil and gas from Russia since the start of what the Kremlin calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine on Feb. 24. Of those, 132 were headed to Europe, it said.

"It's shameful that we keep funding the war by buying Russian fossil fuel. This is happening in Denmark. They shouldn't be allowed to be here," said Martner. ""We will stay until the politicians act."

The Pertamina Prime, which was aggregating crude from several tankers, was due to sail to China once the oil transfer was complete, according to one ship broker.

(This story corrects Trafigura comment in paragraph 4, company did not confirm shipment)

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; additional reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Mark Porter

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