Transocean Spitsbergen will continue its way to the Apollo well but the company will not start drilling until the environment ministry announces its response to Greenpeace’s complaint, goes the report.
Referring to the recent research by the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Greenpeace activists have declared the company violates the ban on drilling closer than 50 kilometres to the ice boundary, and refused to go back to their vessel until Statoil abandons plans to drill in the Arctic. An oil spill, they say, would reach the southernmost point of the Spitsbergen archipelago, Medvezhiy (Bear) Island, within days and cause irreparable damage to the environment.
The Coast Guard vessel Harstad observed the situation but could not interfere because of its complicated international status. According to the head of Tromso police, during transit the rig registered on the Marshall Islands is deemed a foreign vessel going not through Norway’s territorial waters but its exclusive economic zone, remaining outside the Norwegian jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the Greenpeace vessel flies the flag of the Netherlands.
It was not until the police scrutinized the official request for help that it decided to demand the activists leave the rig.