Oil Industry Protesters Use Ships and Superglue to Cause Disruption

August 25, 2010

Organizations who are protesting against the fossil fuel industry took several actions this week, including a confrontation between a Greenpeace ship and the Danish military in Greenland, as well as the resulting closure of the Royal Bank of Scotland head office.

This week, activist organization Greenpeace’s ship, Esperanza, was confronted by a Danish military vessel in the waters of the Davis Straits, between Greenland and Canada.

The Esperanza was anchored a little more than a mile from a Cairn Energy oil rig involved in deepwater oil exploration off the coast of Greenland.  The rig is one of two rigs, owned and operated by Cairn Energy based in Edinburgh, England, that are drilling in the area.  Cairn Energy is one of Europe’s biggest independent oil and natural gas businesses.

Three Danish military inflatable boats dispatched from the larger Danish vessel warned the captain of the Greenpeace boat that the boat would be boarded and he would be arrested if they entered the approximately 550 yard security zone surrounding the oil drilling rig.

Greenland is an autonomously-ruled country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of Canada.  It is therefore protected by the Danish military.

Greenpeace’s boat reportedly left London, England about 2 weeks ago in order to confront the members of the Cairn Energy drilling operation.  Greenpeace maintains that the risks of drilling in the cold water of the Arctic are much larger than drilling in the Gulf of Mexico due to the fact that oil takes much longer to break down in cold water.  They also believe that if a oil spill were to occur in the Arctic, the annual freezing of the water in the area would make the drilling of a relief well into a 3 year-long undertaking, with the oil spilling out unrestrained, for the entire time period.

In addition to the Arctic Sea confrontation, protesters assembled this week in front of the offices of Cairn Energy in Edinburgh, as well as the headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The protesters brought a huge, fake piggy bank to the entrance of the Cairn Energy headquarters, supposedly to symbolize public money supporting the company.  They also vandalized the area by spilling molasses, as a probable symbol of oil, on the premises.

The activists claim that Cairn Energy received 117 million pounds (US$182 million) worth of loans from the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2009.  They maintain that nearly 50% of that money was used to facilitate the Greenland oil exploration operations.

Protesters also gathered this week at the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in Gogarburn, Scotland.  They appeared on the premises with a 19 foot-tall tower on wheels which had a life-size papier mache rhinoceros head attached to it.  The activists also threw molasses on the building and attempted to enter.  One protester actually got into the reception area and super-glued herself to the front desk.

Two were arrested during the resulting conflict with police, and the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters was closed for the rest of the week to diffuse the situation.