Scotland, UK – A Greenpeace ship has overtaken a BP rig near the drill site of a major new oil well in the North Sea.Early this afternoon a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, got ahead of the 27,000-tonne BP rig 83 miles off the Scottish coast.

Soon afterwards the oil rig, approximately 20 miles short of the drill site, made a U-turn and is now heading back on the same track that it came from when it left Cromarty in Scotland.

The turnaround followed a morning of cat and mouse with Greenpeace.

In the early hours activists attempted to re-board the BP rig for fourth time, but the BP vessel towing the rig sped away from them.

Greenpeace International activists did not give up, and pursued BP, overtaking the rig around 1pm. The oil rig is currently still moving back on its original track.

The standoff between climate activists and BP is now in its eighth day as activists continue to stop BP’s plans to drill a new well in the Vorlich oil field, which would give BP access to 30 million barrels of crude.

It comes after Pope Francis warned oil bosses gathered in Rome on Friday June 14 that when ‘faced with a climate emergency, we must take action accordingly, in order to avoid perpetrating a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations.’

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said:

“BP’s oil rig has done a U-turn and we urge chief executive Bob Dudley to do the same. BP must stop drilling for new oil and switch to renewables. 

“Pope Francis is absolutely right about the climate emergency. We must take action to save future generations from a ‘brutal injustice’. And we are.

“BP told the Pope on Friday that they want to find the answer to the climate problem. Wherever that answer may lie it’s certainly not in drilling new wells to access 30 million barrels of oil at the bottom of the North Sea.

“This is why BP will face opposition wherever they plan to drill for more oil, from the North Sea to the Arctic and from the mouth of the Amazon to the Gulf of Mexico. We have tried letters, meetings, petitions – none of that worked. Now we’re going to stand in BP’s way to prevent further harm to people at the sharp end of the climate crisis.

“In the long run, this is a confrontation BP can’t win. They are in it for their profits, we’re in it for our planet’s future. BP must start ditching the climate-wrecking side of its business and switch to renewables.”

Eleven Greenpeace UK activists have been arrested so far in the course of the week-long occupation and five were still in custody as of 3pm today [SUN 16]. Three freelance photographers have also been arrested but subsequently released.

Despite BP claiming that its business is compatible with the Paris climate agreement, Greenpeace argues BP’s operations are in direct opposition to efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change. Evidence for this includes:

-Despite scientists warning that existing oil and gas reserves already exceed what we can safely burn, BP is seeking to expand its operations in the Gulf of Mexico while welcoming President Trump’s move to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drillers;

-BP is outspending other oil majors on efforts to lobby against climate action. An investigation by Unearthed revealed BP successfully lobbied the Trump administration to weaken regulations that would have prevented the release of millions of tonnes of the potent greenhouse gas methane;

-BP capital expenditure remains heavily skewed towards fossil fuels. In 2018 it spent around $16 billion adding to oil and gas reserves, with $500 million – just over 3% –  being spent on alternatives to fossil fuels. As Bob Dudley admitted to the Washington Post: “If someone said, ‘Here’s $10bn to invest in renewables,’ we wouldn’t know how to do it”.


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Greenpeace UK Press Office: [email protected], +44 7506 512442, +4420 7865 8255