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Oil company at centre of Arctic protest coming to NZ

Oil company at centre of Arctic protest coming to NZ

Auckland, 27 May 2014 -The Norwegian oil company at the centre of a high profile Greenpeace protest in the Arctic today is also about to start exploring for deep sea oil in New Zealand waters.

Statoil has been granted a 15-year exploration permit for the Northland basin which lies off the coast of Ahipara beach. It will be looking to drill between 1,000 and 2,000 meters below the ocean surface. Seismic testing, using the New Zealand research vessel Tangaroa, is scheduled to start early next month.

"Statoil is another of the big oil companies aggressively pushing into the Arctic frontier and the deep seas of New Zealand in their desperate search for new oil," says Greenpeace New Zealand Energy Campaigner Steve Abel.

"An oil spill in the Arctic's fragile environs would be impossible to clean up and potentially devastate wildlife and local communities. Likewise the spectacular oceans and coastlines of Northland are now the latest in the firing line from the Key government's reckless deep sea drilling agenda.

"Statoil should get out of the Arctic and get out of New Zealand too."

Today Greenpeace International activists from eight countries have scaled a Statoil contracted oil rig to protest the company’s plans to drill the northernmost well in the Norwegian Arctic, close to the Bear Island nature reserve.

The activists include 32 year old Sini Saarela from Finland, who spent over two months in Russian prison for climbing another Arctic oil rig in September last year. She is currently attached to the oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen and commented:

“Bear Island is a breathtaking part of the Arctic and thousands of us are determined to protect it. After visiting this mysterious island for the first time last week, I find it hard to imagine that anyone could be so irresponsible as to threaten it with oil spills. If Statoil caused a major accident here the oil could reach the nesting place of a million seabirds in less than a week”.

“I took action in Russia last year to stop exactly the same recklessness as I can see here in Norway. We ask everyone to tell the Norwegian government to stop this dangerous rush into the beautiful Arctic environment and rethink its increasingly desperate hunt for oil”.

Last Friday, the Norwegian Environment Agency announced that Statoil’s drilling project would be suspended, pending a complaint from Greenpeace which was backed by 50,000 signatures from its supporters across the world. Monday evening, after heavy pressure from Statoil, the Ministry of Environment lifted the suspension, despite the fact that the Minister of Environment has not finalized her verdict. Greenpeace has condemned the Ministry’s decision and is calling on the Minister of EnvironmentTine Sundtoft to stop the drilling.

Greenpeace International activists from eight countries scaled the Statoil oil rig Transocean Spitsbergen at 5:00 Central European Time in the Barents Sea, 175 kilometres from the Bear Island nature reserve. The activists have food and supplies to stay on the rig for several days. Meanwhile, the Greenpeace ship Esperanza will keep on protesting peacefully.


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