Kara Sea rig in Greenpeace sights


Greenpeace has taken up position at a Norwegian yard to target a rig being upgraded for drilling work by ExxonMobil in Russia’s Kara Sea this summer.

The environmental group’s protest vessel Esperanza sailed this week into the fjord of the Westcon yard at Olen near Haugesund on the west coast where upgrade work is being carried out on the semi-submersible West Alpha.

The rig, owned by Seadrill unit North Atlantic Drilling, is being winterised at the yard in readiness for the controversial Arctic drilling effort due to be carried out by the US supermajor between July and September.

The wildcat will target the Universitetskaya structure at the East Prinovozemelsky block and will be the first to be drilled by ExxonMobil under its Arctic exploration pact with Russian state-owned Rosneft.

The licence overlaps Russia’s Arctic National Park that is a habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including polars bears and walruses, and also hosts a bird colony.

Greenpeace activists were displaying protest banners while riding in a rubber raft but had not apparently initiated any direct protest action against the rig on Friday.

The West Alpha was also targeted earlier this year by activists who boarded the rig dressed as polar bears.

The green group recently boarded the semisub Transocean Spitsbergen in an abortive attempt to block drilling by Statoil of the Apollo wildcat in the Barents Sea that was spudded earlier this month.

The Esperanza had to be towed away by a Coast Guard vessel after occupying the drilling site.

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