Norwegian Forces Arrest Greenpeace Ship in Barents Sea

The Norwegian Coast Guard has removed Greenpeace activists from the safety zone around Statoil’s oil rig, Songa Enabler in the Barents Sea.

The activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise entered the 500-meter exclusion zone with kayaks and inflatable boats after tailing the rig for one month in the Barents Sea. They attached a giant globe to the rig that carried written statements from people from all over the world, with a message to the Norwegian government to stop the oil drilling.

The activists halted the operation of the rig, located in the Korpfjell field, some 415 km from land in the northernmost area licensed by Norway, and after several hours of demanding an end to the drilling in the Arctic, the Norwegian Coast Guard interfered with the protest.

“The Norwegian coast guard doesn’t have the right to board or remove our ship. Protest at sea is an internationally recognized lawful use of the sea, related to the freedom of navigation,” Truls Gulowsen, Head of Greenpeace Norway, commented.

“We are taking action against Arctic drilling in an area where our rights to protest are protected under international law. The Norwegian government cannot unjustifiably interfere with that right,” Gulowsen added.

As part of its 23rd license round, the Norwegian government granted new oil licenses in the Arctic in June 2016.

“The Norwegian government has opened up for a new oil frontier in the Arctic,” Greenpeace said, adding that this marks “the first opening of new areas for oil drillings in 20 years and it is the northernmost area licensed by Norway.”

Greenpeace Nordic and its co-plaintiff, Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth), will face the government in Court in Oslo in November, arguing that the new oil licenses are in breach of the Norwegian Constitution’s right to a healthy environment.