Greenpeace Blocks Swedish Harbor to Protest Oil Refinery Expansion

Greenpeace blocks Swedish refinery to protest expansion
Rainbow Warrior anchored off Preem's oil refinery - CREDIT: © Andrew McConnell / Greenpeace

By The Maritime Executive 09-11-2020 02:25:51

Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace are blocking the entrance to the port of Brofjorden located in western Sweden on the North Sea to call attention to an on-going dispute over the proposed expansion of one of Sweden’s oil refineries. The Swedish Maritime Authority and local police have also become involved seeking to resolve the 24-hour standoff.

Greenpeace anchored its 850-ton sailing vessel the Rainbow Warrior crewed with activists from Greenpeace Nordic at the entrance to the harbor last evening at around 5:30 p.m. local time. It was timed to coincide with the arrival of the crude oil tanker Grena Knutsen, which was inbound to the oil refinery operated by Preem in Lysekil, Sweden. Demonstrators took to the sailing ship’s launches to circle the oil tanker displaying signs to call attention to their cause and illuminated the sailing ship.

Activists from Greenpeace Nordic calling attention to their cause - CREDIT: © Andrew McConnell / Greenpeace

After attempting to reach Preem’s refinery, the tanker later anchored outside Brofjorden. At least two other tankers, the Tarnbris and the Tern Ocean, are reportedly trapped at the refinery as no vessels can currently navigate safely through the area. The Swedish Maritime Authority temporarily ordered the waterway closed to all traffic as a further safety precaution. 

The protest comes as Sweden’s government is considering a proposal from the oil company to expand its refinery. Greenpeace is demanding that Sweden’s prime minister follow the terms of the Paris Climate Accord and stop the planned expansion of the refinery. They contend that the expansion would increase CO2 emissions further hindering Sweden’s ability to achieve its national emissions targets.

This is just the latest in a series of actions trying to stop the expansion of the oil refinery. In June, Sweden’s courts ruled that there was no legal grounds to block the expansion which must be approved by the government. On September 5, Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior joined area residents in also staging a flotilla in the harbor to call attention to their cause.  

Preem, the largest oil refiner in Sweden has previously promised to produce more biofuels and to use advanced technologies, including carbon capture, to reduce the impact of emissions linked to the operations.