Photo: West Hercules drilling rig. © Jani Sipilä / Greenpeace

GALLERY: Greenpeace activists climb West Hercules rig ahead of Equinor drilling plans

Four Greenpeace activists have climbed the West Hercules drilling rig, which is located near Rypefjord village in the north of Norway, and bound to drill in the Barents Sea for Equinor.

CREDIT: © Jonne Sippola / Greenpeace

West Hercules is a semi-submersible drilling rig owned by offshore drilling contractor Seadrill. The rig is slated to drill the Korpfjell Deep well, designated 7335/3-1, located in the Barents Sea for Norwegian oil giant Equinor in early May. Equinor received the safety consent from the Norwegian safety watchdog to drill this well using the est Hercules rig in late March.

The well is in the far north-east of an opened area in the south-east Barents Sea, around 420 kilometers off the coast of Finnmark in a water depth of 239 meters.

On Monday, April 29 Greenpeace said that activists from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany had climbed the West Hercules to protest against Equinor’s Arctic drilling plans.

In the statement on Monday, the environmental organization said: “While a growing movement calling for real action on climate change is happening all over the world, Equinor’s rig is preparing for a season of oil drilling in the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea.

“The drilling is licensed by the Norwegian government but under scrutiny from a constitutional lawsuit to end Arctic oil drilling in Norway.”

Greenpeace activist Karianne Andersen said: “Desperate times call for desperate measures. That’s why I’m here, doing whatever I can to tell the Norwegian government that if we want to keep our planet livable for the generations to come, we need to phase out the oil industry.”

Greenpeace Norway head, Frode Pleym, added: “Drilling for oil in the Arctic while the region melts faster than ever is complete madness. We face a climate emergency and need to stop oil drilling, and that’s why we are peacefully protesting today.”

According to Greenpeace, this protest on the oil rig comes mere weeks after tens of thousands of young people across the country took part in school strikes to call for climate action. A key demand of the striking youth is an end to new oil and gas exploration in Norway. A recent study also proved that, for the first time, a majority of Norwegians under the age of 24 are in favor of leaving oil in the ground because of the climate crisis, Greenpeac said.

“Young people in Norway are asking for an end to oil. Now it’s high time for the government to listen and follow through,” said Haldis Helle, vice chair of the Norwegian youth NGO Nature and Youth and taking part in the protest.

Pleym concluded: “Oil is one of the biggest threats to the climate and the Paris Agreement, which Norway has signed to help keep global temperatures below 1.5 and avoid climate catastrophe. Norway needs to be a front-runner when it comes to stopping the search for new oil, and this is not the way to do it. The emissions coming from Norwegian oil are Norway’s responsibility, and we as a country are not honoring that.”

It is also worth mentioning that this latest protest on the West Hercules by Greenpeace is not the first one. Namely, Greenpeace “kayaktivists” in March 2018 boarded the West Hercules rig at the Skipavika yard on the west coast of Norway.

The West Hercules also recently drilled the Gjøkåsen Shallow prospect in the Barents Sea for Equinor. During drilling operations, the company experienced a well incident on board the West Hercules rig when  the lower marine riser package (LMRP) on the blowout preventer (BOP) was unintentionally disconnected and the work, therefore, had to be halted. This was in January 2019. In February, the results of the well came in and classified it as dry.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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