World Bulletin / News Desk
Activists climbed Gazprom's oil platform in the Arctic early on Friday, planning to stay there to protest against plans by the Russian energy giant to drill in a fragile environment, Greenpeace said.
The activists "have taken up positions" on the platform and have enough supplies for several days, Greenpeace said.
Six activists, including the environmental group's global chief Kumi Naidoo, had scaled the platform at the Prirazlomnoye oil field after reaching it in inflatable speedboats from a Greenpeace ship in the vicinity at about 4 a.m. (0000 GMT).
The Prirazlomnoye field, Russia's first Arctic offshore oil development, has been plagued by delays, cost overruns and platform construction difficulties, with crude now expected to flow at the turn of the year.
"The only way to prevent a catastrophic oil spill from happening in this unique environment is to permanently ban all drilling now," Greenpeace quoted Naidoo as saying from the platform.
Gazprom and Gazprom Neft Shelf, a subsidiary holding the Prirazlomnoye license in the Pechora Sea - a southern part of the Barents Sea north of the Russian coast - declined immediate comment.
Prirazlomnoye is estimated to hold reserves of 526 million barrels and success in launching Arctic oil exploration is seen vital to sustaining Russia's long-term status as the world's top oil producer.
But environmental campaigners say the Arctic's extreme conditions - remoteness, fragile ecosystems, darkness, sub-zero temperatures, ice and high winds - are likely to hamper any emergency operations in case of an oil spill.
Greenpeace will promote a resolution at the U.N. General Assembly that would declare the Arctic a global sanctuary to prevent any oil drilling as well as unsustainable fishing there.
A similar sanctuary in Antarctica was created 20 years ago when the mining industry was banned from operating there.
Other majors such as Statoil, Exxon Mobil Corp , Rosneft, Eni, BP, Shell and Total have started or plan to start drilling for oil and gas in Arctic regions, spurred by high commodity prices and concerns about future energy security. The Arctic is estimated to hold at least 32 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves and the region is becoming more accessible as global warming melts sea ice.Last Mod: 24 Ağustos 2012, 14:11