Press release - 23 February, 2012

Auckland, 24 February 2012 — New Zealand actor Lucy Lawless — star of hit US TV show Spartacus and Xena: Warrior Princess — joined Greenpeace activists in stopping a Shell-contracted oil drillship from departing New Zealand for the Arctic, where its exploratory oil drilling programme threatens to devastate the Alaskan coastline.

Lucy Lawless boarded the Noble Discoverer as a member of the Greenpeace team, scaled the drillship’s derrick and occupied it along with six other climbers. (1)
“I’m blocking Shell’s Arctic drillship because I believe passionately that renewable energy is the way of the future,” said Lucy Lawless. “We don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to suck out every last drop of oil. Instead we need to smarten up and begin the transition to a clean, green, sustainable energy future and right now that means keeping Shell out of the Arctic.”
The Noble Discoverer, scheduled to drill three exploratory oil wells this summer in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska, was blocked from leaving the port of Taranaki for its 6,000 nautical mile journey by Greenpeace New Zealand activists who boarded the vessel and occupied the drilling derrick, equipped with enough supplies to last for several days.
“We have taken action today to stop Shell from drilling in the Arctic, where an oil spill would devastate the fragile environment, and be impossible to clean up,” said Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner Nathan Argent, from outside the Port of Taranaki. “Shell must keep the Noble Discoverer in port, or risk a catastrophe in Alaska worse than the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Shell is the first major international oil company to make exploitation of the Arctic a major focus. If the Noble Discoverer strikes oil this summer, other global oil giants will quickly follow and spark an Arctic oil rush. Earlier this week, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement approved Shell’s Oil Spill Response Plan for the Chukchi Sea. (2) It included devices for cleaning up a spill—including capping and containment systems and ice deflection barriers—that Shell admits have never been properly tested except in laboratories or on paper. (3)
Shell has a very tight window in which to drill for oil. Frigid temperatures, extreme weather conditions and a highly remote location pose unprecedented challenges, and make an Arctic oil spill virtually impossible to contain and clean up. (4) According to a senior official at a Canadian firm that specialises in oil-spill response, “there is really no solution or method today that we’re aware of that can actually recover [spilled] oil from the Arctic.” (5)
Total estimated Arctic oil reserves would satisfy just three years of current global oil demand, but would both contribute significantly to carbon emissions and pose a grave risk to the local ecosystem. (6) Numerous reports show that through energy efficiency and clean energy, global energy needs can be met while leaving the Arctic untouched. (7)
“Drilling for oil in the Arctic is yet another example of reckless fossil fuel companies encroaching further and deeper into our few remaining pristine environments,” said Greenpeace spokesperson James Lorenz. “In Australia, we are seeing massive expansion plans for coal mining and its export, putting extreme pressure on unique and fragile areas like the Great Barrier Reef, as well as driving global greenhouse gas emissions. At the very moment when the smart money is on clean energy, we risk permanently turning our precious natural assets into an industrial estate for the short-term profit of a few corporations. It’s time to invest in safe and sustainable solutions.”
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace.
Link to photo shoot (2 images):
In Sydney, James Lorenz 0400 376 021
To request an interview with Lucy Lawless contact Cindy Baxter at +64 21 772 661
Photo/video: Julie Konop, Greenpeace Video Desk, tel: +31 646 162 009
Alex Yallop, Greenpeace International Photo Desk, tel: +31 624 941 965
Photos and video will be available for download from the Greenpeace FTP server
Username: media
Password: d15tr1but10n
Notes to editors:
(1) Activists are from New Zealand, UK and Spain. They had banners which read “Stop Shell” and “#SaveTheArctic.”