Greenpeace protest over Greenland oil drilling ended

image captionEarlier this week protesters hung from the underside of the rig

A protest by environmental activists against oil exploration in Arctic waters has ended, according to the Edinburgh-based company behind the drilling.

Cairn Energy said work was suspended for 12 hours after the protesters breached a restricted area on the Leiv Eiriksson rig.

Greenpeace said 18 activists climbed on to the rig off the coast of Greenland.

They called for details of how the operator would respond to an oil spill.

Earlier this week, two Greenpeace protesters occupied the 53,000-tonne drilling vessel, operated on behalf of Cairn Energy.

Protesters hung from the underside of the rig in an Arctic survival pod and were removed by Danish police.

Oil rush

The latest protest was launched from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza in five inflatable speedboats, from outside an 500-metre exclusion zone.

A statement from Cairn Energy said: "The incident aboard the Leiv Eiriksson has ended peacefully. All 18 protesters are being dealt with by the Greenland authorities."

It is understood 14 of the activists were removed by early afternoon, while the remaining four had locked themselves in a crane cockpit, before they too were removed.

It is believed at least six of the activists are UK nationals.

Earlier, campaigner Ben Ayliffe said: "Experts say the freezing temperatures and remote location mean a deep water blow-out in this stunning pristine environment would be an irreversible disaster.

"If they published the plan, the dangers of investing in such a high risk venture would be laid bare. We have to draw a line in the ice and stop the Arctic oil rush."

Cairn announced this week that it had begun drilling two wells in the region.

The two wells are approximately 100 miles (160km) and 185 miles (300km) off Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. Each drilling operation is in water deeper than 2,953ft (900m).

In response to Greenpeace demands to see Cairn's oil spill response plan, the energy company said: "As stipulated by Greenland authorities, the oil spill response documents are not publicly available."

In a statement, the company added: "Wherever it is active, Cairn operates in a safe and prudent manner.

"The Greenland Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum has established some of the most stringent operating regulations anywhere globally, which mirror those applied in the Norwegian North Sea."

"It is in the interests of the Greenland government to put in place the most stringent and robust measures. Cairn takes its responsibilities such as oil spill contingency and response plans very seriously."

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