Greenpeace activists end 13-day occupation of Shell’s oil platform (Gallery)

Greenpeace activists have disembarked Shell’s oil platform at the port of Haugesund in Norway after 13 days of occupation and a journey of almost 4,000 kilometers from the Canary Islands, with no arrests having taken place. 

Credits to Matthew Kemp / Greenpeace

Four activists boarded the floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit from inflatable boats north of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean on 31 January as it was being transported to Shell’s oil and gas project off the UK in the North Sea, with two more persons joining on 6 February at sea.

The Penguins FPSO unit is destined for a redevelopment project at the Penguins field, which, as Greenpeace claims, would create 45 million tonnes of CO2 if all of the oil and gas is burnt, which is more than the entire annual emissions of Norway.

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The protestors onboard the vessel called on Shell to take responsibility for its role in causing the climate crisis and to pay into loss and damage funds. Two days into the protest, the energy giant posted record annual profits of nearly $40 billion, causing another Greenpeace protest at its London headquarters.

After posting the profits, Shell tried to shut down the protest by securing an injunction on 3 February, threatening fines and up to two years in prison. However, despite court orders, Greenpeace was able to sustain the occupation and add two climbers to join the original four. 

On 12 February, in a final stand at 10:30 a.m., the protestors climbed the platform’s 125-meter flare boom and waved a banner saying “Stop drilling. Start Paying.”

Meanwhile, five fellow activists on board Greenpeace Nordic’s Tanker Tracker boat sailed out to confront the 51-000-tonne White Marlin vessel contracted by Shell as it approached the port. 

At midday, the platform was brought into dock and protestors descended the boom and disembarked at 2:30 p.m. in Haugesund, ending what is said to be Greenpeace’s longest-ever occupation of a moving oil platform. 

View on Twitter.

“Shell might think this is the end of our protest, but my message to chief executive Wael Sawan is that this is just the beginning. Negotiations around climate loss and damage have so far stalled when it comes to the fundamental question of: who will pay?” said Yeb Saño, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director.

“Not only can the likes of Shell afford to pay; it is right that they must pay for devastation that they are directly causing. Shell, and the wider fossil fuel industry, must stop drilling, and start paying. One way or another we will make polluters pay.”

During the protest, Greenpeace and the activists were hit with a legal claim for more than $120,000, over alleged caused damage, and were accused of having “unlawfully” erected solar panels and a wind turbine on the oil platform, and of “intimidation” for calling on Shell to stop drilling and start paying for climate loss and damage.

The claim demanded that the campaign group pay for increased security costs associated with the protest, and for other damage that might have occurred. According to Greenpeace, with no assessment having yet taken place, the claim failed to explain exactly what the sum of over $120,000 is for, or what damage is alleged. 

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To remind, Shell made a final investment decision for the redevelopment of the Penguins oil and gas field in 2018, authorizing the construction of the Penguins FPSO, which is reported to be the first new manned installation for Shell in the northern North Sea in almost 30 years.

China’s Offshore Oil Engineering Company (COOEC) completed the construction of the FPSO at the end of November 2022. The FPSO left the Chinese yard on board Boskalis’ White Marlin vessel to embark on its journey to Norway. While it was estimated that the journey to the North Sea would take 55 days, the vessel was expected to stop at a Norwegian yard for commissioning prior to reaching its destination in the UK North Sea.

The FPSO is 118 meters tall and weighs 32,000 tonnes, and has the ability to withstand harsh sea conditions. It can process 12.75 million barrels of crude oil and 1.24 billion m3 of natural gas per year. It has a maximum crude storage capacity of 400,000 barrels.