Greenpeace boards Cairn rig despite injunction

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 17, 2011 8:03 AM
Greenpeace boards Cairn rig despite injunction

LONDON (Reuters) - Greenpeace ignored a court injunction on Friday and boarded a Cairn Energy drilling rig offshore Greenland, raising the stakes in a battle over the development of the area as a major new oil-producing province.

Campaigners including the global head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, boarded the rig, following similar occupations in recent weeks and last year.

Cairn said the protesters were quickly detained by authorities and operations were not affected.

Little exploration has been conducted in Greenland due partly to the harsh environment, but high oil prices are pressing companies to drill in new areas. Explorers believe Greenland could have billions of barrels of oil under its seas.

But the BP oil spill last year has heightened concerns about the ability of the oil industry to deal with leaks in deep water, and accidents in Arctic locations are seen as especially challenging.

Greenpeace has called on Cairn and the Greenland government to publish the company's oil spill response plan, but Greenland has refused to do so. Spill response plans are publicly available in the United States and UK.

Last week Cairn secured an injunction against Greenpeace in a Dutch court, barring the environmental group from invading Cairn's facilities, with a possible penalty of 50,000 euros ($71,800) a day if operations were interrupted.

Cairn had sought a penalty of up to 2 million euros.

Previous occupations have lasted for days, but since Cairn said there had been no impact on Friday, it seemed unlikely Greenpeace faces a large fine.

(Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Will Waterman)

($1 = 0.696 Euros)