Greenpeace stages drilling protest aboard Arctic-bound rig

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Greenpeace International took “direct action” against the Leiv Eiriksson semisubmersible drilling rig over the weekend, with activists climbing the rig to stop its mobilization.

The Leiv Eiriksson was slated to depart Turkish waters for a drilling campaign in the Baffin Bay offshore Greenland. Cairn Energy contracted the rig to perform exploration drilling in the Arctic waters offshore Greenland in an ongoing effort to establish the region as a new oil and gas province.

On April 21, a group of 11 Greenpeace protestors climbed the rig near Istanbul in an effort to stop its mobilization to the Baffin Bay.

The semisub continued its mobilization, with the protestors aboard for a day when bad weather forced the activists to abort the rig in the Dardanelles Straits.

Seeing some success from its 2010 three-well drilling campaign offshore Greenland, Cairn plans to drill four exploratory wells in the Baffin Bay this summer. Cairn has contracted both the Ocean Rig Corcovado drillship and the Leiv Eiriksson semisub for its drilling campaign.

In September 2010, Greenpeace boarded another Cairn-contracted rig, the Stena Don semisub, as it drilled the Alpha-1 exploration well offshore Greenland, stalling efforts for a number of days.

The waters offshore West Greenland are estimated to contain up to 17 billion barrels of undiscovered oil equivalent, while East Greenland is expected to contain some 31 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

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