Activists block Russian oil tanker in Norwegian port, calling on govt to ‘stop fueling the war’
Activists from Greenpeace are blocking a Russian oil tanker from offloading oil in a Norwegian port, calling on the government to ban the imports of Russian fossil fuels due to the war in Ukraine.
As informed by Greenpeace on Monday, its activists in kayaks and boats are blocking the oil tanker Ust Luga, preventing it from offloading Russian oil into the port. The action is taking place in the Oslo Fjord, in the Slagentangen oil port owned by Esso, a Norwegian subsidiary of U.S.-based ExxonMobil.
The activists are calling on the Norwegian government to ban the import of Russian fossil fuels and demanding that Esso cancels its contracts to buy fossil fuels from Russia during this time of war in Ukraine.
Activists in a boat have chained themselves to the anchor chain to prevent the Ust Luga from going to the pier and offloading, displaying banners that read “Oil fuels war”, “Stop fuelling the war”, and “No war”.
According to Greenpeace, the Ust Luga is loaded with 95,000 tonnes of oil with a market value of $116 million, adding that the tanker is operated by Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural gas producer. Greenpeace also said that Novatek’s largest shareholder is the oligarch Leonid Mikhelson, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin.
Activist and Head of Greenpeace Norway, Frode Pleym, said: “Oil is not only at the root of the climate crisis, but also of wars and conflicts. I am shocked that Norway operates as a free port for Russian oil, which we know finances Putin’s warfare. During these two months of Russia’s war of aggression, we have seen horrific images and know the unimaginable suffering of the innocent civilian population of Ukraine. The fact that our government still allows the import of Russian fossil fuels in the current situation is unfathomable.”
Greenpeace Norway has also sent “strong-worded letters” to both ExxonMobil and the Norwegian government, demanding an end to all Russian oil and gas.
A spokesperson for ExxonMobil told Reuters the company had agreed to buy the oil before the conflict started and does not have plans for further purchases from Russia.
As a reminder, ExxonMobil and several other oil majors – including Shell and BP – at the beginning of March pledged to end their operations in Russia. Specifically, ExxonMobil said it would begin the process to discontinue operations and develop steps to exit its Sakhalin-1 venture.
In other related news, Shell has recently found itself in an unenviable position due to buying a cargo of Russian crude oil. Following a public backlash, Shell apologised and explained the decision had been made with the security of supplies in mind and guided by the need to disentangle society from Russian energy, adding it would commit profits to a dedicated fund to alleviate the consequences of the war on the people of Ukraine.
When it comes to bans on Russian vessels, just last week, the U.S. government decided to ban Russia-linked vessels from the country’s ports, which the UK and Canada already did at the beginning of March. The ban in the U.S. is becoming effective on 28 April 2022.
“This means that no ship that sails under the Russian flag or that is owned or operated by a Russian interest will be allowed to dock in a United States port or access our shores. None,” U.S. President, Joe Biden, said last week.
This came after the U.S. banned Russian oil, LNG, and coal imports in early March while the UK moved to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year.
About a month later, in early April, the European Union announced a new, fifth round of sanctions against Russia and its businesses, joining a ban on Russian vessels from accessing the ports. The EU still has not banned Russian oil imports but is working to become independent from Russian fossil fuels well before 2030, starting with gas.
Activists have been increasing the pressure on governments to stop new fossil fuels projects. In widespread protests at the beginning of April, 10 oil facilities across the UK were blocked, demanding from the government to stop funding new fossil fuel projects. The Just Stop Oil coalition sees renewables as the key to a rapid transition to a zero-carbon economy.