Greenpeace protesters board Statoil’s Arctic drilling rig: Norwegians do nothing

Statoil’s Arctic drilling rig (left)

(Reuters) – Greenpeace activists boarded an oil rig in the Norwegian Arctic on Tuesday to try to stop exploration plans in the far north, and Norwegian police said they were powerless to intervene until drilling starts.

The Statoil rig, which is registered in the Marshall Islands, is in international waters some 23 nautical miles (43 km) from its planned drilling site in the Barents Sea. As long as drilling does not begin, Norwegian police have no jurisdiction.

“When the rig is in movement, it is considered a ship. When the rig begins to drill it is considered a rig on the Norwegian continental shelf. Then we can safeguard Norwegian oil and gas interests,” Ole Saeverud, chief of police for Troms police district in northern Norway, told Reuters.

He declined to say what action police may be preparing. The Norwegian coastguard currently has one vessel near the rig. Statoil, which is owned by the Norwegian state, denounced Greenpeace’s actions as illegal and irresponsible.