Moscow, Aug 24 (IANS) Environmental activists led by the head of Greenpeace International, Indian-origin South African Kumi Naidoo, Friday stormed a Russian oil platform, protesting drilling for oil in the Arctic, RIA Novosti reported.
Six activists travelled in three inflatable boats launched from Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise, currently touring the Pechora Sea, the environmental agency said on its website.
They successfully scaled the Prirazlomnoye platform despite being hosed down with icy water by platform staff and settled on the rig where the oilmen could not reach them, and put up banners.
The activists effectively blocked the platform’s operations because safety rules prohibit it from working with intruders on the rig, said Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia.
The activists, all skilled climbers from Canada, Finland, Germany and the US, have supplies like water and chocolate bars to withstand a 10-day-long siege, he said.
Media reports said platform workers offered the protestors hot soup instead of fighting with them.
The attacks are part of Greenpeace’s global campaign against drilling in the Arctic, said Chuprov, who supervises the watchdog’s energy projects in Russia.
More than 1.5 million people from all over the globe have signed an online petition against oil exploration in the northernmost region in the planet.
Environmentalists say oil spills in the Arctic can be almost impossible to clean and will be capable of ruining fragile local ecosystems for decades.
Greenpeace activists have refused to negotiate, said Gazprom, Prirazlomnoye platform’s owner, in a statement.
The platform’s operations were not disrupted, it said.
Greenpeace launched its Arctic campaign in 2010, but this is the first time that Russian oil operators have become the target of the group’s direct action.
In 2010, Naidoo and several volunteers staged a similar protest at an oil platform of British company Cairn Energy.
The event ended with Naidoo’s short-term arrest and deportation for the environmentalists, but also with the company wrapping its offshore Arctic operations.