Activists block 10 oil facilities across UK demanding immediate halt to new fossil fuel projects

Activists block 10 oil facilities across UK to demand immediate halt to new fossil fuel projects

On a quest to end further fossil fuel extraction, environmental activists from groups in the Just Stop Oil coalition and Extinction Rebellion have blocked ten oil terminals across the UK, demanding a stop to new oil and gas projects and investments on the UK Continental Shelf.

Just Stop Oil Coalition; Credit: Zoe Broughton

Hundreds of supporters of the Just Stop Oil coalition and Extinction Rebellion blocked ten critical oil facilities near London, Birmingham and Southampton to demand that the UK government stops funding new fossil fuel projects in the UK.

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In its statement, the Just Stop Oil coalition quoted Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, to further underscore its aims and get its point across: “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.”  

The activities undertaken to successfully block these terminals were varied. Some people sat in the road to block oil tankers from leaving each site, while others climbed on top of oil tankers, including over 30 young people at the Navigator Oil Terminal in Thurrock.

Extinction Rebellion blocked three oil terminals – Esso’s West London terminal, ExxonMobil’s Hythe terminal, and BP’s Hamble terminal – while Just Stop Oil blocked the remaining seven: Inter Terminals UK, Navigator terminals Thames, Buncefield Oil Depot, Esso Petroleum Co, Purfleet Fuels Terminal, Kingsbury Oil Terminal, and BP Oil Depot.

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While demanding an end to the government’s policy of expanding UK oil and gas production, the Just Stop Oil coalition says that ordinary people can no longer afford oil and gas, adding that it is time to stop the new investments, as this is “funding war and killing people in the global south while destroying the future for young people everywhere.”

Amid the current geopolitical crisis – exacerbated by Russia’s attack on Ukraine – the cost of living has increased significantly worldwide while the recent IPCC report indicates that climate breakdown is happening much faster than expected. The Just Stop Oil coalition explains that ordinary people are being made to pay, while the government wastes £230 million – or over $302 million – per week subsidising the oil industry, enabling energy companies to make huge profits.

In light of this, activists felt the need to take action as the Just Stop Oil coalition believes these events should prompt an emergency response to reduce UK dependence on fossil fuels. However, the government is doubling down on drilling for new oil and gas, according to the coalition.

One of the activists, Louis McKecknie, 21 from Weymouth, remarked: “I don’t want to be doing this but our genocidal government gives me no choice. They know that to allow more oil and gas extraction in the UK is suicidal and will accelerate global heating. I stop when oil stops.”

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Furthermore, the Just Stop Oil coalition sees renewables as the key to rapidly transition to a zero-carbon economy, adding: “There must be no more increases in fuel or heating costs. Fossil fuel companies and the richest must pay. The cost of living crisis is not going to end, but we can insulate ourselves from higher fuel prices by getting off oil and gas. No new oil, reduce demand and invest in renewables.”

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine started, global governments have been working on enabling the security of energy supply and reducing reliance on Russian fossil fuels as Russia is one of the biggest producers and exporters of oil and gas.

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Having this in mind, the United States government already banned imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal while the UK government has decided to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year, prompting calls for an increase in domestic oil and gas output much to the disapproval of environmental campaigners.

Clare Farrell, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, said: “Enough of the lies, deceit and deadly political failure. Only a few months ago our leaders were crying in Glasgow because they had failed the world, now they are seeking to bend the rules of physics to meet their political project and give oil and gas companies a pass. We know it won’t work, and it’s too late for denial and delay.” 

Extinction Rebellion announced further blockades in London on 9 April, adding: “We will be big and loud and impossible to ignore and we will return day after day until our immediate demand is met: No new fossil fuel investments, no new fossil fuel licences, end fossil fuel subsidies now.”

Instead of accelerating the transition to a renewable-led future, Extinction Rebellion believes that the government is making a choice to continue “its addiction to fossil fuels” as war wages in Ukraine, while Boris Johnson now states the current crisis demands a “climate change pass.” The activists remind that the Prime Minister recently said he wants to “remove barriers” to increase extraction of fossil fuels from the North Sea while the UK is also set to approve licenses for 40 new fossil fuel projects.

Another activist, Jack Johnson, 23 from London, stated: There is no climate change pass. We all face a choice – stand by and do nothing while the government destroys your future or take action. Nonviolent civil resistance works. It’s our best hope of forcing the government to take responsibility. Now is the time for action, thousands of us are taking to the streets. We will go home when the government makes a meaningful statement to end new fossil fuel production in the UK.”

Extinction Rebellion further elaborates that increasing UK extraction will not help ordinary people with rising energy costs as more drilling in the North Sea will not provide the UK with a secure supply of affordable energy.

Tim Crosland, former deputy director of the UK’s National Crime Agency and director of plan B, stated: “The government is prioritising political pandering and vested interests over the public good in decision making while fossil fuel companies exploit this moment to expand their reach. Protestors are not the problem, policy failure is.”

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This is not the first that activists have blocked an oil facility. Back in October 2021, Extinction Rebellion Scotland blocked an oil rig maintenance facility with a prop oil rig, demanding a stop to fossil fuels extraction.