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Norway’s coast guard has removed Greenpeace protestors from a safety zone near Statoil drilling operations in the Korpfjell field of the Barents Sea, according to a new report in the Maritime Executive.
The protestors used kayaks to infiltrate a 500-meter exclusion zone around the Songa Enabler on Thursday in order to attach a large globe to the rig. On it was a statement from environmentalists calling on Norway to end its drilling in the Arctic.
Statoil called the stunt “illegal and irresponsible” before summoning the authorities to remove the protestors’ vessel, Arctic Sunrise.
On the other hand, Greenpeace Norway argues the coast guard’s actions were unlawful.
“The Norwegian coast guard doesn’t have the right to board or remove our ship,” said Truls Gulowsen, head of the local branch of the environmental group.
“Protest at sea is an internationally recognized lawful use of the sea, related to the freedom of navigation. We are taking action against Arctic drilling in an area where our rights to protest are protected under international law. The Norwegian government cannot unjustifiably interfere with that right.”
So far, the government maintains that it acted within its rights when it removed the ship due to the clear establishment of the exclusion zone.
To this claim, the group retorts: “While Greenpeace recognizes that Norway has the right to establish a safety zone around a fixed offshore installation, there should also be room to exercise the right to protest in a safe and peaceful manner.”
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Environmentalists continue to protest drilling in the Arctic and the potential opening of the Lofoten islands to exploration.
Greenpeace is suing Norway in a trial set to begin in November, arguing that “granting licenses to open a new oil frontier breaches the Norwegian Constitutional right to a healthy and safe environment for current and future generations and contravenes the Paris Agreement.”
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…