Russia’s First Shipment of Arctic Oil to Europe Arrives in Netherlands

Thursday, May 01, 2014
Greenpeace protest against Russian Arctic oil tanker 1 May 2014 (photo: Marten Van Dijl, Greenpeace/AP)

The world’s first petroleum extracted from beneath the Arctic Ocean is now on its way to Western Europe, where a leading environmental group is preparing to stage a protest against Arctic oil development.

 

The Russian oil tanker Mikhail Ulyanov, carrying 70,000 tons of crude oil from the Prirazlomnaya oil field in the Pechora Sea, docked at the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

 

Russia became the first nation to drill for oil in the Arctic after Gazprom, the nation’s leading energy company, set up the Prirazlomnaya platform, which was designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including sea ice.

 

Upon the ship’s arrival in Rotterdam Thursday morning, Greenpeace International activists attempted to interfere with its docking and 31 people were arrested by Dutch authorities.

 

Greenpeace previously targeted the Prirazlomnaya rig for protest last September, when 28 activists and two journalists sailed aboard the Arctic Sunrise. The group, dubbed the Arctic 30, was arrested by Russian authorities after two activists attempted to scale the oil platform.

 

The protestors were charged initially with committing piracy, but the charges were reduced to acts of hooliganism. All 30 were freed on Christmas Day. Their ship, however, remains in Russian hands.

 

Environmentalists and other critics of Arctic oil exploration say the risk is too great to drill in that part of the world.

 

Simon Boxall, an oil spill expert from the University of Southampton, told The Guardian last year that if oil drilling continues, “It is inevitable you will get a spill – a dead [certainty]. I would expect to see a major spill in the not too distant future. I would be astonished if you did not see a major spill from this.”

 

The Obama administration has pushed aggressively to allow oil drilling in the Arctic regions of Alaska, but thus far the drilling companies have been unable to overcome the dangerous conditions. They also have been unable to come up with credible solutions to possible accidents and oil spills.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

Greenpeace Readies to Confront First Arctic Oil Shipment (by Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams)

Russian Tanker Carrying First Arctic Offshore Oil Shipment Will Be ‘Escorted’ By Greenpeace Vessel (by Jeff Spross, Think Progress)

As Arctic Ice Melts, U.S. Navy Expands its Presence (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S. Energy Firm’s First Arctic Drone Mission Paves Way for Controversial Drilling (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Arctic Oil Rig Grounded Dangerously in Alaska (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

A Disturbing Success: The First Commercial Trans-Arctic Passage (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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