(en) GREENPEACE SHIP BLOCKS ARCO OIL PLATFORM IN ARCTIC OCEAN

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Fri, 15 Aug 1997 11:51:31 +0000


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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 22:38:28 -0700 (PDT) From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org> Subject: GREENPEACE SHIP BLOCKS ARCO OIL PLATFORM IN ARCTIC OCEAN

Greenpeace and the Climate need your help!!!!

ACTION REQUEST

GREENPEACE SHIP BLOCKS ARCO OIL PLATFORM IN ARCTIC OCEAN

GROUP PROTESTS ADMINISTRATION PLANS FOR LEASING IN ALASKA WATERS, VOWS TO THWART ARCO PLANS FOR FIRST OIL DEVELOPMENT IN ARCTIC OCEAN

Washington, D.C., August 13, 1997 -- The Greenpeace ship MV Arctic Sunrise, operating in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska, today blocked the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) from towing a massive oil platform to a federal lease site in shallow coastal waters, where ARCO intends to drill and produce oil. Hanging banners reading "Stop Oil, Go Solar," the Arctic Sunrise positioned itself in front of the 100-meter high platform, immobilizing it.

The Arctic action marks an escalation in Greenpeace's international campaign to protect the climate from human-induced global warming caused mainly by the burning of coal, oil, and gas. It coincides with direct actions on Saturday, August 9, when Greenpeace activists boarded British Petroleum's Stena Dee mobile drilling platform en route to the Foinaven oil field, 110 miles west of the Shetland Islands. The ARCO well, named WARTHOG I, would become the first producing oil well in federal waters off the north slope of Alaska, if it proves commercially viable.

Greenpeace also filed for a temporary restraining order today in Los Angeles District Court to stop ARCO from continuing the exploratory drilling operation. Greenpeace is challenging ARCO's application for a permit that allows it to "incidentally take, by harassment" marine mammals such as bowhead whales, seals, and beluga whales. Although ARCO has not yet received the permit, and the public consultation period is not even closed, ARCO has begun to deballast the rig.

"Drilling for new oil in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of global warming is irresponsible," said Steve Sawyer, Arctic Expedition leader on board the Arctic Sunrise. "We can't afford to burn oil we have already found, without taking catastrophic changes in climate -- more severe storms, droughts, and floods. Instead of exploring and drilling for new oil -- especially in fragile and vulnerable environments -- ARCO should be spending its research and development dollars on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources."

Sawyer also strongly criticized the Clinton Administration for allowing lease sales in federal waters off Alaska, calling the Administration's policies inconsistent with the President's stated concerns about global climate change.

"President Clinton has stated that he finds the evidence for human-induced climate change 'compelling,' and the Administration plans to negotiate an international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Sawyer. "At the same, time, however, the Administration is launching an oil rush in federal waters off Alaska. The President needs to make up his mind, because business as usual is no longer tenable."

The Arctic Sunrise has been documenting the impacts of climate change in Alaska for the past month. The Bering Glacier is thinning and retreating; the forests of the Kenai Peninsula are being destroyed by insect infestations brought on by temperature increases; and villagers in the Bering and Chukchi Seas are noting changes to vegetation, weather, and ice formation.

The ARCO drilling rig blocked today by the MV Arctic Sunrise is a massive oil platform called the Glomar Beaufort Sea 1 -- a floating artificial island consisting of six structural modules. The combined drilling unit has 79,000 square feet of deck space and is over 300 feet square and roughly 300 feet high. ARCO is towing the platform from Prudhoe Bay to a location in federal waters in Camden Bay, on the north slope of Alaska just offshore from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). From this location, ARCO plans to drill on an angle into state waters off the Wildlife Refuge. Drilling is scheduled to begin in November.

ANWR has long been on the oil industry's wish list for development. But time and again, strong public opposition has prevented industry from gaining access to ANWR. Many see ARCO's plans to drill for oil directly offshore of ANWR as a way to circumvent the current ban on on-shore development in the Refuge.

If the WARTHOG well proves viable, ARCO plans to commence production and transport the oil through a subsea pipeline through tidelands adjacent to the Wildlife Refuge. Building subsea pipelines through unstable subsea permafrost is an extremely risky venture that will use completely new and unproven technology. Camden Bay is covered by ice for nine months of the year, making any spill or mishap -- particularly in fractured or broken ice -- virtually impossible to address. According to Kalee Kreider, Climate Campaign Director for Greenpeace USA, "The frozen Arctic environment is no place to be experimenting with this technology."

To date, drilling in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has been limited to exploratory wells. Efforts by ARCO and BP (British Petroleum) scheduled for the winter drilling season of 1997-98 will be the first attempts to establish production wells. If these are successful, these wells will pave the way for massive polar oil development across the Arctic Ocean. BP plans to conduct seismic testing in the summer of 1997 and hopes to bring its Northstar site into production by 1999.

Despite the environmental risks to drilling in the Arctic Ocean, and the perilous state of the Earth's climate, the Clinton Administration has pushed forward with lease sales in Alaska's waters. The most recent Beaufort Sea lease sale was held last year, offering 7.3 million acres. Five companies (ARCO Alaska Inc., British Petroleum Inc., Chevron USA, Petrofina Delaware, Inc. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp.) paid $14,429,363 for leases covering 99,983 acres. The Administration's current 5-year plan for the Arctic OCS shows plans to lease the entire Beaufort Sea area from just east of Barrow to the Canadian border.

Greenpeace is demanding an immediate halt to all new oil exploration, both in the Arctic and globally, and is calling for a phase-out of fossil fuels and a conversion to solar and other alternative energy sources.

You can help the climate and Greenpeace!! Contact President Clinton via e-mail at president@whitehouse.gov and demand that he take two clear steps to protect the nation from dangerous global warming. First, that the US take a leadership role in international negotiations under the Climate Treaty calling for a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (burning fossil fuels) based on 1990 levels by the year 2005. Second, that as a demonstration of the US commitment to adhere to a treaty that we stop offshore oil development starting in the pristine arctic.

For more information contact:

Kalee.Kreider@wdc.greenpeace.org (Climate Campaign Director) Deborah.Rephan@wdc.greenpeace.org (Media Director)

http://www.radio4all.org http://www.radio4all.org/freepacifica

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