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More Greenpeace Protestors Board Heavy-Lift Vessel Carrying Shell FPSO

Greenpeace occupies Shell FPSO
Two additional Greenpeace protestors board the heavy-lift vessel while it was underway in the English Channel (© Greenpeace)

Published Feb 9, 2023 3:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

Greenpeace is continuing to escalate its protests against Shell and the company’s offshore oil drilling including continuing to occupy an FPSO unit being transported to join the company’s North Sea operations. Additional protestors boarded the heavy-lift ship carrying the unit for Shell and despite court orders seeking to end the protests they are currently in a standoff as the vessel is now anchored in the North Sea.

The protestors are demanding that Shell stop expanding its oil and gas production around the world and take responsibility for “fueling the climate crisis” by paying taxes. The protest began off the coast of Africa on January 31 when Greenpeace activists using small boats boarded the White Marlin, a 72,000 dwt heavy lift vessel transporting the FPSO. Greenpeace says the unit will be a key piece of oil and gas equipment that will be used to unlock eight new wells in the Penguins field in the North Sea. 

Boskalis told The Maritime Executive after the vessel was boarded that they were monitoring the situation and were in close contact with Shell on how to proceed. Since then, the White Marlin has continued sailing north showing its destination as Havgesund, Norway where it was due to arrive on February 8. However, late on Tuesday, February 7, the vessel reportedly dropped anchor in the North Sea in a position between Denmark and Scotland.

 

(© Greenpeace)

 

Shell had already gone to the High Court in the UK seeking to bring an end to the protest. They prevailed and received an injunction from the court stipulating that the four activists occupying the FPSO were to seek to agree to a plan with the White Marlin’s captain to safely disembark. Two vessels assisting Greenpeace, the UK-flagged Sea Beaver and the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise operated by Greenpeace, along with their small boats were also ordered to stay outside a 500-meter exclusion zone around the White Marlin.

Greenpeace responded to the court injunction by escalating the protest with two additional protestors climbing to join the four already aboard the vessel. Pascal Havez of France and Silja Zimmerman of Germany climbed aboard the White Marlin on February 6 with the assistance of the Greenpeace France chartered Merida trimaran and two small boats while the White Marlin was in the English Channel. The six protestors continue to occupy the FPSO displaying their banners reading “Stop Drilling. Start Paying.”

Aboard the White Marlin, the six activists have set up a small wind turbine which they are using to power their communications equipment. They have been sending out updates and videos from the site.

 

(© Greenpeace)

 

During a second hearing in the courts on February 7, Greenpeace was facing potential penalties of up to two years in jail for the protestors and fines if they were held in contempt of court. The judge however granted a second order designed to stop any further protestors from boarding the White Marlin. In addition, the protestors were ordered to disembark as soon as possible after the vessel arrived in Norway. 

Shell said it was trying only to stop “further highly dangerous actions,” but not the right to protest. The judge also worried that the protestors’ actions might also be putting the crew of the White Marlin at risk.

In addition to the protests at sea, Greenpeace also staged a demonstration last week at Shell’s London headquarters. Another protest was also conducted at Shell’s Bonifacio Global City headquarters in the Philippines. Over the years, Shell has been a frequent target of Greenpeace with efforts ranging from boarding other platforms to blocking movements at the company’s refinery in Rotterdam.