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Greenpeace activists stop Statoil rig drilling in the Arctic

Greenpeace activists stop Statoil rig drilling in the Arctic

Friday, August 18: A New Zealander is among a group of activists who have halted a Statoil rig drilling in the Arctic.

Lizzie Sullivan, from Auckland, is with the protesters who paddled kayaks into the exclusion zone around Statoil’s oil rig, Songa Enabler in the Barents Sea. They deployed a large model planet Earth and attached it to the oil rig’s anchor chain. The globe carried written statements from people from all over the world, with a message to the Norwegian government to stop the oil drilling.

Their peaceful protest halted the operation of the oil rig for several hours.

Norwegian authorities have just now arrested the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. The authorities unlawfully ended the activists’ peaceful protest against drilling in the Arctic with seizure of the ship and arrests of all 35 activists and crew members on board. The Arctic Sunrise is currently being towed away from the drilling site, to the mainland in Tromsö, Northern Norway.

This follows an admission by Statoil that it paid private investigators in New Zealand to surveil Greenpeace staff over several years.

The activity is part of a widespread Greenpeace campaign against state-owned Norwegian oil giant Statoil’s oil exploration in the Arctic and in New Zealand waters. In 2016, the Norwegian Government granted new oil drilling licences in the Arctic.

Sullivan, who is Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngati Tuwharetoa, says she joined the protest on board the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, because climate change is a global issue.

“Both here in the Arctic and home in Aotearoa, Statoil are colluding with governments and are determined to suck out the last drops of oil, putting families, homes, and my people’s way of life on the line,” she says.

“Climate change is the biggest threat humanity faces and I can’t stand idly by whilst governments and corporations like Statoil collude to disrupt democracy and push our planet over the edge.

“We’re carrying messages from hundreds of thousands of people around the globe who are challenging Statoil’s activity. It’s the same back home in New Zealand, where thousands of Kiwis, including more than 80 hapū and iwi, have come together to say “no” to deep sea oil.”

Sullivan is the second Kiwi to join the ship in the Arctic on this trip. In July, New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless was also on board to confront Statoil.

Up until recently, Statoil was also in New Zealand waters where it was prospecting for oil off the Wairarapa Coast using the world’s largest seismic surveying ship, the Amazon Warrior.

At the time, Greenpeace New Zealand used the crowdfunded boat, Taitu, to confront the Amazon Warrior, 50 nautical miles at sea.

Three swimmers, including Greenpeace New Zealand Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, put themselves in the water in front of the 125-metre long ship, forcing it to change course and cease blasting for a day.

Both Greenpeace and the swimmers have been charged under the ‘Anadarko Amendment’ of the Crown Minerals Act. They will appear in Napier District Court on August 28.

Last week, Greenpeace New Zealand launched legal action against controversial spy agency, Thompson & Clark Investigations, after an investigation revealed that oil companies, including Statoil, hired the agency to spy on Greenpeace staff and volunteers.

The information indicates that potentially hundreds of people had been watched, photographed and followed at work and at home on a daily basis, for several years.

The New Zealand Government has now also been implicated in the operation, and the Ministry of Business, Employment & Innovation (MBIE) admitted it received information from Thompson & Clark about Greenpeace while Statoil was using the Amazon Warrior to search for deep sea oil off the East Coast.

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