STAVANGER, Norway – Norwegian police have removed a Greenpeace team that boarded the semisubmersible Transocean Spitsbergen, in an attempt to stop the rig heading to the Barents Sea to drill the Apollo exploration well for Statoil.
However, the Greenpeace vesselEsperanza is now positioned on the planned offshore drill site, in an attempt to further disrupt operations.
Statoil has a permit to start the drilling operations, but is awaiting a final decision on a Greenpeace appeal to the Norwegian Ministry of climate and environment before drilling into oil-bearing layers.
Aside from Apollo, the company plans wells this summer on the Atlantis and Mercury structures in this area. Atlantis is 300 km (186 mi) from the Norwegian mainland.
Statoil points out that it has participated in more than 100 wells in theBarents Sea, and claims that the chances of an oil spill occurring are extremely low, with only an extremely low risk of any spillage reaching Bjørnøya (the Arctic nature reserve on Bear Island, 175 km/109 mi away). This, it says, has been confirmed by 70,000 trajectory scenario calculations.
If a spill were to occur, the first oil booms (NOFO system) would be on the water in less than two hours, the company says, and more systems would be mobilized rapidly.
Late last night Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum informed theEsperanza of the creation of a “safety zone” around the Transocean Spitsbergen in the Arctic.
Greenpeace International has responded by lodging an appeal, claiming the Ministry failed to provide the notice period required by international and Norwegian law.