The Arctic Sunrise is nearing the Port of Murmansk under tow by the Russian Coast Guard.
We have recived the first pictures from inside the mess of the Arctic Sunrise, where the crew is being held by Russian authorities.
A number of independent legal experts have now supported Greenpeace International's position that the boarding was illegal under international law. Separately, over 50 Russian NGOs including WWF Russia have signed a joint statement callig for the activists to be released.
Greenpeace International lawyers are demanding immediate access to the 30 activists who have been held for over four days without legal or consular assistance. It is still not known whether Russia intends to lay formal charges and Greenpeace has not received any formal contact from the authorities.
It is now over 12 hours since Greenpeace International has had any contact with the ship, which appears to be heading west towards the Russian territorial waters.
We have not received any formal confirmation of possible charges, and the activists have been denied access to legal or consular assistance. Over 20 Greenpeace offices are organising protests at Russian embassies around the world today.
The head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign, Ben Ayliffe, said:
“The safety of our activists remains our top priority and we are working hard to establish what is facing them. They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout. In our last phone call with the ship, the crew said that their spirit remains high and they have been boosted by messages of support from thousands of people who stand with them to oppose dangerous Arctic oil drilling.
“The real threat to the Russian Arctic comes not from the crew of the Arctic Sunrise but from Gazprom, one of the most reckless oil companies in the world today.”
The Russian Coast Guard has boarded the Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise and is arresting the 25 activists on board.
At the time of the boarding, the Arctic Sunrise was circling Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform at the three nautical mile limit, inside international waters. Coordinates confirm that the ship was inside of Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), making this an illegal boarding by the Russian Coast Guard. The coordinates at the time of the boarding were: 69-19-53N : 57-16-53E.
Using a helicopter and ropes, armed Coast Guard officials boarded the vessel and started rounding up the activists, assembling them on the helideck. Greenpeace International activists locked inside the radio room said they saw other activists detained on their knees with guns pointed at them.
Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said:
“This illegal boarding of a peaceful protest ship highlights the extreme lengths that the Russian government will go to to keep Gazprom’s dangerous Arctic drilling away from public scrutiny.
“We ask President Putin to restrain the Coast Guard and order them to holster their guns and withdraw. We are a peaceful organisation and our protest has done nothing to warrant this level of aggression.”
Tweet from the Arctic Sunrise.
BREAKING: Helicopter hovering above Arctic Sunrise, rope dropping down. We think the Coast Guard is boarding us. #savethearctic
To hell and back to Save the Arctic
This morning, at 4 a.m., I hugged my fellow climbers good luck before heading out to climb Gazprom's oil platform, the Prirazlomnaya, from the Arctic Sunrise.
It was a terrifying moment for me as I jumped into the inflatable boat in total darkness; I knew the Russian Coast Guard was waiting for us. They had been on our tail since Monday, watching our every move, and I could see the huge water cannons in the distance. But we had a mission and we were determined: to stop the world’s first oil from being produced from ice-filled Arctic waters.
It didn't take long to reach the platform and when I did, two of the climbers had already managed to get a line up so we could start our ascent. Before I had a chance to scale the platform, two boats headed towards us from the Coast Guard vessel, with people wearing military camouflage clothing and balaclavas. It felt like I was living through a horror movie as they rammed into us. They were shouting at us and then my fellow climber, Sini, fell into the water. Sini looked scared but I know she's incredibly brave — I admire her so much. We rescued her from the water but they made it extremely difficult for us by continuing to ram our boats.
A total of 11 warning shots have been fired as armed Russian authorities attempt to stop Greenpeace International activists from climbing Gazprom's 'Prirazlomnaya' oil rig.
Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign, said:
"Employing this level of force against a peaceful protest ship is completely disproportionate and should stop immediately. It’s clear that oil companies receive special protection from the Russian authorities, who seem more interested in silencing peaceful activists than protecting the Arctic from reckless companies like Gazprom."
"Let’s be absolutely clear about this: the real threat to the Arctic comes not from Greenpeace International but from oil companies like Gazprom that are determined to ignore both science and good sense to drill in remote, frozen seas."
Tweet from the Arctic Sunrise.
BREAKING: we’ve got 4 boats in the water heading towards Gazprom’s Arctic rig. We’re going to try and stop the drilling. #savethearctic
Back to the Arctic
I am in the Arctic again. We are in Kirkenes, Norway, at 69 degrees 45 minutes North. That’s 192 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
It does not feel right to me though: there are too many trees! Though they only go up to an elevation of one or two hundred feet, they are there. And yesterday I had shorts on. Well, at least in the morning.
My experience of being in the Arctic before is mostly from Greenland. And even though here in Kirkenes we are about 600 miles north of Cape Farvel, the southern tip of Greenland, this is a much gentler climate. There was not a tree in Greenland. In fact, there was such a lack of green that when we finally got back to Norway and started seeing vegetation again, it was a real shock.
We went to Greenland to document and research climate change, looking at how our warming planet was affecting the region’s glaciers. I’m sure everyone here on the Arctic Sunrise with me agrees that the Arctic must be saved from oil drilling, but if you’re in doubt, just think about what a different place this planet would be without its polar deep freeze at the top of the world. Rest assured, it will change your life."
Rosneft's history of leaks – to be continued in the Arctic?
The Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise was drifting not far from the vessel Geolog Dmitry Nalivkin which is doing seismic exploration for Rosneft and Exxon Mobile oil companies.
We were preparing for peaceful protest against extremely risky Arctic oil exploration, putting the inflatable boats on the water. Together with other activists I was staying on the deck of the Arctic Sunrise, waiting for a signal to climb down to the boat. Meanwhile on the bridge our captain was calling to Nalivkin on the radio, but it had not responded. Instead, the Russian coast guards answered: they demanded Greenpeace stop the peaceful protest, get prepared to accept their inspection and leave the Kara Sea. Our inflatables were on the water and we’d just unfurled a banner reading “ Save the Arctic” when our captain asked us to come back: Russian security service were boarding the Arctic Sunrise and threatening us with preventive fire.
Coast guards had their mission in the Kara Sea: to protect the oil industry; Greenpeace had its own mission: to protect the Arctic. State-owned Rosneft, the biggest oil company on the planet, is threat number one to the Arctic. Working together with Western partners — Exxon Mobile, Statoil and Eni — it is doing seismic and geological exploration in the Barents and Kara Seas, preparing to start extremely risky Arctic oil drilling.
The Russian Arctic is a surprisingly beautiful region. However from the Arctic Sunrise deck we often see not only dolphins and whales but also oil exploration vessels dragging 8-kilometer long equipment firing underwater sound cannons deafening for marine wildlife. It is happening because Rosneft has 33 license blocks for oil exploration on the Arctic shelf, with a total area exceeding 1.1 million square kilometers, roughly 3 times the size of Germany.
To see Rosneft-contracted vessels in the Arctic is especially worrying for me: I have been in Rosneft's oilfields in Siberia and know how irresponsibly this company treats oil spills. In June, together with Greenpeace, I explored Rosneft oil spills near Surgut. Every day we traveled hundreds of kilometers and saw the same landscape everywhere: black oil lakes and bogs, perished forests, and animals forever stuck in oil slush... 216,000 barrels – this is the total volume of the leaks of Rosneft every single year. And it is happening not far from the biggest Russian cities, where they have infrastructure, oil spill cleaning equipment and human resources at their fingertips.
While the Greenpeace ship crew is protesting against Arctic oil exploration, our colleagues on shore have again left for a Rosneft oil spill expedition. After our last visit there, Greenpeace submitted complaints about the spills to Russian state authorities. On paper, changes may have been made since. But in reality, Siberian landscapes are still “decorated” by black oil lakes and bogs, dead animals and plants. The bigger catastrophe will happen in the Arctic if we do not stop Rosneft and its partners.
Blogpost by Georgy Timofeev, Russian activist on board the Arctic Sunrise
Defending the Arctic even as Russia threatens to use force
In the frigid waters of the Kara Sea, north of Russia, far away from the glare of public scrutiny, oil giants Rosneft and ExxonMobil are exploring the offshore Arctic and the Russian Coast Guard threatened to fire on a Greenpeace ship today trying to expose them.
Rosneft and ExxonMobil are operating in a remote region where the weather conditions are hostile and unpredictable and where it is pitch black half of the year. Winter ice moves through the Arctic with relentless, almost geological force.
An oil spill here is practically inevitable – and a clean up virtually impossible. At risk is the fragile Arctic nature, the narwhals, polar bears, bowhead whales, walruses, seals, and dozens of bird species. At risk is also the planet – more oil, more carbon in the atmosphere, accelerated climate change.
Our future is at stake. This is why the Arctic Sunrise has sailed here, stopping first in Kirkenes, a remote Norwegian town near the northern-most tip of the European continent.
Russian coastguard threatens Arctic Sunrise
Video from the confrontation with the Russian Coast Guard earlier today.
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise has decided to leave the Kara Sea and the Northern Sea Route under threat of force from the Russian Coast Guard.
After boarding the Arctic Sunrise, the Coast Guard repeated its claim that the ship entered the NSR illegally – a claim that Greenpeace disputes. The Coast Guard warned the ship it would use force if necessary, including opening fire on the ship, if the Arctic Sunrise would not leave.
We have decided to leave the Kara Sea and the Northern Sea Route (NSR) under threat of force from the Russian Coast Guard. #SaveTheArctic
Russian authorities board Arctic Sunrise during Arctic oil protest
The Russian Coast Guard has begun a mandatory ‘inspection’ of the Arctic Sunrise following a peaceful protest
Four members of the Russian Coast Guard boarded the ship without permission after the group launched inflatable boats with banners reading “Save the Arctic” near the oil exploration vessel Geolog Dmitry Nalivkin. The vessel is currently under contract to Russian state-owned Rosneft and US oil giant ExxonMobil as part of a joint venture.
Coast Guard asks us to turn around
Earlier today the Russian Coast Guard vessel, the Viktor Kingissepp, contacted us stating its intentions to board us, but never carried out the boarding. Now, the Coast Guard has informed us that we have entered the Northern Sea Route without proper permits. We reaffirmed our intentions to remain in the area in order to conduct peaceful protest.
Russian government had denied permission for the Arctic Sunrise to enter the Northern Sea Route, despite us having met in full the requirements for such an entry. The refusal of entry is a clear attempt by the Russian authorities to stifle criticism of the oil industry.
Russian Coast Guard vessel state intentions to board
We just got contacted on radio by the Russian Coast Guard ship, Viktor Kingissepp. The Coast Guard announced its intention to board our ship for an inspection.
Yesterday morning we crossed into the Northern Sea Route (Kara Sea) defying the Russian authorities that wanted to keep us out. We refused to let Russia stifle peaceful protest and our right free navigation. But what are we protesting? Find out here.
The Arctic nightmare Russian authorities don’t want you to see
I’m on board the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, about to cross into an area of the Arctic that Russian authorities don’t want us to see. They’ve contravened international law by denying our ship access to an important sea route and tried to shut us out - tried to shut you out.
But with the world watching and millions of Arctic defenders at our sides, we are defying the Russian authorities, claiming our rights to bear witness and to protest, and entering the Kara Sea.
Stopping Arctic oil drilling is a lofty goal, but we can do it
Now that I’m on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, I understand how important it is for the campaign to have ships. The crew of the Arctic Sunrise is exposing exploratory activities by oil companies in Barents Sea, and through our presence the whole world can bear witness to a huge threat to the Arctic.
The ship is like a small solitary village: you are very close to all of your “neighbours” and it is so far from the big city. The Arctic Sunrise has everything you need to be at sea for months. I’m only staying for a few weeks, but I’ve already found that the many books in the lounge and the hospital, in particular for sea-sickness, come in handy. If I was staying longer I’m sure the sauna, the training spot and all the movies would come in handy too.
Now the Arctic Sunrise is floating in the Barents Sea – and under the August sun the Russian Arctic looks magnificent. However, Rosneft, a Russian oil giant and the biggest oil spiller in the world, is trying to contaminate this region as it has already contaminated Russian land. This spring I went to see with my own eyes Rosneft oil spills in Siberia, and it was a devastating sight. A massive amount of oil spills covering vast areas. Fresh spills on top of old ones and old rusty infrastructure still leaking like an old swamp. Now I’m here in the Russian Arctic to state clearly that this dirtiest company in the world should never be allowed to drill in the Arctic.
As an activist I'm here to protest against exploratory work in the Russian Arctic. This work is just the beginning – the next step is risky Arctic oil drilling. And from that drilling, a disaster is likely to follow close behind. As a Norwegian citizen and a campaigner, I'm here to expose the hypocrisy and double standards of Norwegian oil company Statoil, which in Norway strives to keep its brand shiny and clean, but operating abroad is involved in risky Arctic oil-drilling, with licenses all around the Arctic Ocean and a partnership with Rosneft to drill in icy-areas in the Arctic.
Usually people are very sceptical. For them Greenpeace’s aspiration to stop Arctic oil drilling is too naive. What do I say to those people? I ask them to sit down and think about the reality we are living in. Drilling for Arctic oil will not make our lives more comfortable, but it will ruin our comfort by turning life into climate hell. Floods, bugs, hurricanes, fires – that's what the future holds if we don’t take action now.
Stopping Arctic oil drilling is a lofty goal, but I'm sure we can do it. Things change very fast: oil price varies, legislation develops, and more and more people are joining the movement as Arctic defenders. You can become one of them right now.
Erlend Tellnes, Norway.
Russia shuts Arctic Sunrise out of Arctic sea route
The Russian authorities has denied permission for our icebreaker the Arctic Sunrise to enter the increasingly busy Northern Sea Route, despite the ship having fulfilled all the requirements for such an entry.
The decision is an attempt to prevent us from exposing the activities of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft. Multiple vessels contracted by Rosneft and US partner ExxonMobil are conducting seismic testing and geological work in the Kara Sea in preparation for offshore Arctic drilling.
The Arctic Sunrise is a fully equipped icebreaker with significant experience of operating in these conditions, while the oil companies operating here are taking unprecedented risks in an area teeming with polar bears, whales, and other Arctic wildlife.
None of the six oil exploration vessels operating for Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the area has an ice classification as high as the Arctic Sunrise. More than 400 vessels have been granted access to the Northern Sea Route this year, many of them with an inferior classification to that of the Arctic Sunrise, which is classed as an icebreaker.
This is a thinly veiled attempt to stifle peaceful protest and keep international attention away from Arctic oil exploration in Russia.
Rosneft Seismic Vessel returns to port
After two days of protest from the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, the oil exploration vessel Akademik Lazarev is leaving the Rosneft oil field and returning to port.
Late last night, the oil exploration vessel called us up on the radio informing us that it was leaving the Rosneft oil fields to return to the port of Murmansk.
The Arctic Sunrise will continue patrolling the Russian Arctic in an effort to expose and confront Russian oil companies like Rosneft and their western partners like Exxon Mobil, Statoil and BP, who are preparing to drill in the region.
Can dolphins hear Arctic drilling even before it starts?
“This is Christy Ferguson, calling from the bridge of the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise ... On behalf of Greenpeace and over 3 million Arctic Defenders around the world, we demand that you cease all preparations for oil drilling and return to port.”
It was our first encounter with the Akademik Lazarev, an oil exploration vessel working for the Russian oil giant Rosneft, which is preparing to drill in the high Arctic. Our captain spotted the vessel on the radar as we moved through the Barents Sea north of Russia, and we made our approach.
We started by making radio contact. I called the captain of Akademik Lazarev over the ship’s radio and told him why we were here: To protect the Arctic from the disaster of oil drilling. The captain confirmed that he was working for Rosneft, told me he had authorisation from the Russian state, then cut our conversation short.With the captain unwilling to talk further, we got in a couple of inflatables and approached the vessel.
We wanted to get a closer look, document its operations and bear witness. As we came up, we could hear the booming of underwater cannons and we could feel the shockwaves beneath us. It was a frightening feeling—the sounds they produce are so loud that they could deafen or even kill you if you were to fall in.
Tweet from Christy Ferguson onboard the Arctic Sunrise as the activists continues protest against Rosneft's oil exploration in the Russian Arctic.
Dolphins swimming alongside & military plane circling overhead as we launch boats for day 2 of confrontation w Seismic vessel #SavetheArctic
The Akademic Lazarev working for Rosneft were not keen on answering questions around the potential catastrophe oil exploration present to the Arctic environment.
We launched two inflatables to make sure Rosneft get’s the message. Here are few pictures.
Tweet from the Christy Ferguson from Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, confronting an oil exploration vessel
Just spoke to the vessel's captain by radio, demanded that they stop all preparations for oil drilling and return to port. Help us bit.ly/17KDLyO#SaveTheArctic
Oil Industry In Sight
Last night one of Rosneft’s oil explorations vessels turned up on the radar on the Arctic Sunrise. At steady pace we have now caught up with the vessel.
The Rosneft-contracted vessel Akademic Lazarev is doing seismic surveys in the Barents Sea in a step towards reckless oil exploration. Seismic testing uses sound waves generated by air cannons to create detailed maps of undersea areas, to determine locations for oil drilling. This kind of activity has significant impacts on whales and other wildlife in the area. Underwater sound level over 180-190 decibels is dangerous for marine mammals: if they are within 450-500 meters of the air cannons (190 dB) they will lose their hearing permanently. If they get within 150 meters where the sound reaches 245 decibels, the animals will die.
State-owned Rosneft is the world’s largest oil company. It holds over a million square kilometers of license blocks on the Arctic shelf, and plans to drill the first exploratory well as soon as 2014 at Vostochno-Prinovozemelsky-1 block located next to the Russian Arctic National Park.
Rosneft has recently signed joint deals to drill in the Arctic with international oil companies including ExxonMobil, BP and Statoil.
The Farthest North I’ve Ever Been
I still can't believe it. Here I am, first time onboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise that late Sunday left the harbour of Kirkenes, the last Norwegian town on the way before the Russian Arctic.
The Arctic Sunrise is sailing there to expose and confront the Russian oil company Rosneft. A company only capable of its vast oil exploration in the Arctic due to partnerships with western oil companies such as ExxonMobil, Statoil and BP.
Why am I here and why do I want to save the Arctic? Because it's there. You don't need more reasons, it is our duty to protect it.
It’s a well-known fact that if we want to keep global warming under the 'acceptable' limit of 2 degrees Celsius, two-thirds of the world's proven fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground. This last one-third will probably be burned before my little daughter, who is one year old now, will be eighteen. I'm afraid of the day when my daughter is old enough to join a Greenpeace ship and I`ll have to tell her: “Well you may do it but you'll have no chance to stop climate change.” In some way we’re lucky – we still have a chance to control it and we should take it.
The Russian Arctic is not only the farthest north I`ve ever been but it`s also the farthest I`ve been away from my wife and kids. And it`ll also be the longest time. But Janet, my wife, understands – she`s a Greenpeace activist as well. Want to know how we met? We were wearing bicycle locks around our necks, chaining ourselves to the gate of a company that used wood taken from pristine rainforest clearcuts to produce toothpaste. We`re chicken, however. After we both had spent 48 hours in single cells after a protest against oil companies' role in the Iraq war in 2003, we married and promised ourselves never to be apart for that long again. We both have broken that rule from time to time (guess why), but never this long.
But I know she feels the same way about the absurd climax of the fossil age: oil companies moving in where the ice retreats due to the global warming that they have spent decades on fuelling. You cannot look away. I've been a volunteer for Greenpeace Germany since 1995. There are lots of reasons why I joined Greenpeace – actually it's harder to find reasons why one wouldn’t do it. You can't just be frustrated about what's going on, you have to do something too.
By Daniel Rawer, German activist onboard the Arctic Sunrise
In Russian waters
The Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise has entered the Russian Arctic and is preparing to engage in peaceful protest as oil companies lay the groundwork for drilling in this fragile region.
"Russian company Rosneft, along with partners such as Statoil and ExxonMobil, is operating in numerous license blocks within the region, including areas adjacent to the Russian Arctic National Park - important habitat for polar bears, walruses, narwhals and bowhead whales.
According to official statistics, Rosneft is the world's biggest spiller of oil on land. In 2011 it spilled an estimated 163,000 barrels. Companies have no reliable way of preventing or stopping an oil spill, or of cleaning one up after the fact. Over the coming weeks, Greenpeace and millions of supporters will be challenging Rosneft and other companies at sea, on land, and online.
Tweet from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise after entering the Russian Arctic
Daniela Lima from Mexico won a prize to go to the Arctic on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.
"The famously scenic Lofoten islands are best known as a cod-rich fishery and eco-tourism destination. But now that the government of Norway is eager to get its hands on the dirty oil in its Arctic waters, Lofoten has become a defining battleground in the politics surrounding Arctic protection in Norway.
That’s why last week, over 400 youth representatives and activists from diverse climate action groups all over the world travelled to Lofoten to attend a summer camp organized by Norwegian environmental organisation NaturogUngdom (Nature and Youth). The goal was to share the experiences of those who have been severely affected by the oil industry – from the Niger Delta to the Canadian tar sands – while raising awareness of the latest attempts to open this region to offshore drilling.
This trip has changed my life. It’s changed my perspective, for the better. Working together, we can achieve anything.
Po-Paul works as a bosun/boatswain on board the Arctic Sunrise. He is responsible for all the operations on deck and maintenance of the paintwork and rigging. Here PoPaul is handling the ships lines needed to secure the ship when it comes alongside in ports.
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is in the Arctic to expose and confront the oil industry. You can join the movement against Arctic oil drillings and the call for a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole.
Daniela Lima from Mexico won a prize to go to the Arctic on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.
Daniela is from Mexico and a 21 year old student of environmental engineering. She gained the most supporter sign-ups to Greenpeace in her hometown working in direct dialogue. She singlehandedly collected more than 9,000 signatures for the Save the Arctic petition. Daniela had never left her country or set foot on a ship before.
Arctic Sunrise returns to the North
The Arctic is under increasing pressure from climate change and oil drilling. But drilling in the treacherous waters is far from safe, and when an oil spill happens, it will have devastating consequences for the region’s environment, wildlife and the 4.5 million people living there.
Last summer the Arctic sea ice broke a record — and not the good kind — when it hit the all-time lowest extent of summer sea ice in history. Every summer the sea ice retreats, but in recent decades, as temperatures rise, the ice has retreated further and further, shrinking in area and volume, and melting to dangerously low levels. But rather than see this as a stark warning of a planet in peril, the oil companies see this as a business opportunity, moving further north than ever before to drill for the same fossil fuels that caused the melting in the first place. It's insanity.
This year the Arctic Sunrise will expose and confront the oil industry in the Arctic. The first stop will be the Lofoten Islands, a beautiful Norwegian archipelago that plays an important role in the region's ecosystem. The islands have so far managed to stay off-limits to the oil industry but the Norwegian government is eager to let the oil companies get their hands on the dirty oil and gas believed to exist beneath the seabed surrounding the Island. Join us here as we begin our expedition into the Arctic.
Save The Arctic
Oil companies like Shell are far from capable of operating safely in the Arctic and must be stopped before an oil spill happens. The remoteness and harsh environment will make any serious cleanup efforts impossible and oil in the fragile ecosystem will have devastating consequences. Help us declare the Arctic off limits to offshore oil drillings.
Shell Lied About Oil Rig Grounding
Shell official admits that the Kulluk ran aground on New Years Eve was being moved in an effort to avoid a possible $6 million tax.
Despite previously denying that a potential tax liability was the reason for towing the Kulluk in rough weather ending in a grounding, Shell officials today came clean in a Coast Guard hearing. "Our preference for the timing was to be gone before the end of the year, driven by the economic factors," said Sean Churchfield, operations manager for Royal Dutch Shell in Alaska. "The end of the year to my understanding was when the tax liability potentially would have become effective."
The statement is a crystal clear example of how Shell's obsession with profit comes before environmental or safety concerns.
Our preference for the timing was to be gone before the end of the year, driven by the economic factors
Shell 'Screwed Up' In 2012
No truer words were said than US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar when he bluntly pointed out on Thursday that Shell "screwed up in 2012" during its chaotic attempt to drill for Arctic oil.
In a damning assessment of Shell's embarrassingly inept operations in Alaska, Salazar said the company will not be allowed to return without a comprehensive overhaul of its plans to avoid the same kind of mishaps that plagued its 2012 operations.
An Obama government review found that Shell, a massive company with profits in excess of $26 billion last year, was not prepared for the extreme conditions in the Arctic. Shell's ill-preparedness resulted in a series of accidents and the New Year's Eve grounding of its drill rig the Kulluk.
Shell's drilling rig the Noble Discoverer is loaded on board a heavy lift vessel in Seward, Alaska.
Major repairs are needed to Shell's two drilling rigs, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk, which force the oil company to tow the two rigs to Asian ports. The extensive repairs needed leave Shell's future drilling plans in Alaska in limbo.
A Troubled Secretary Salazar
After the grounding of Shell's oil rig on New Year's Eve the US Department of the Interior launches an “expedited, high-level” 60 day investigation in to the whole of Shell's 2012 programme.
Meanwhile the Shell oil rig, the Kulluk, has been towed into Kiliuda Bay where potential damages will be assesed after its grounding on New Years Eve.
The investigation by the Department of Interior will pay special attention to issues around the Arctic Challenger failing to meet demands for operating in the Arctic, the oil company's oil spill containment dome that was "crushed like a bear can" and the long list of operational mishaps related to the two drill rigs the Noble Dicoverer and Kulluk.
Drillship Under Criminal Investigation
While Shell's oil rig, the Kulluk, remains grounded near Kodiak in Alaska, another of the companies ships, the Noble Discoverer, is placed under criminal investigation.
The US Coast Guard call in their criminal investigators to look into potential violations of US federal law.
The investigation comes after a routine inspection conducted back in November where inspectors found serious issues with the ship's safety management and polution control system.
Shell's Arctic oil rig hits the rocks
In yet another example of just why drilling for oil in the Arctic is such a monumentally bad idea, Shell’s drilling rig, the Kulluk, runs aground off the island of Sitkalidak, near Kodiak in Alaska.
The ancient rig was being towed back to harbour after a spectacularly unsuccessful summer drilling season when it ran into serious trouble and hit the shore.
The Kulluk was being towed back from the Arctic by Shell’s brand new $200m tug the Aiviq when it hit heavy weather in the gulf of Alaska that caused the 400ft towing line to break and the rig to drift free. By Friday the Aiviq managed to reconnect with the Kulluk but it “experienced multiple engine failures” 50 miles south of Kodiak Island, causing the rig to drift free once again in 35ft seas and winds of 40mph.
On Saturday the Kulluk’s crew were helicoptered off the rig by the US Coast Guard and the vessel dropped its anchor lines to slow its drift towards the coast. During Sunday the towing lines were reconnected but broke yet again. Eventually on Monday morning the Aiviq also restored connection with the Kulluk about 19 miles off the coast of Kodiak Island and began the process of towing it to Port Hobron in Alaska. However, later on Monday night, the Kulluk broke its towing lines again just 4 miles off the coast and soon after it ran aground.
Crushed Like A Beer Can
Shell containment dome 'crushed like a beer can' in simple test.
Under calm conditions far from the Arctic, a key part of Shell's oil spill equipment was crushed under a simple test, according to documents obtained under a freedom-of-information request.
The spectacular failure took place in the Puget Sound back in September. Internal emails from Shell shows that the 20 feet-tall containment dome was "chrushed like a beer can" while decending through the water column. After bursting it immediately shoots to the surface where it "breached like a whale" before sinking to a depth of more than 120 feet before a safety buoy prevented bottom contact.
Engine Fire Breaks Out
The same drillship Noble Discoverer drillship that slipped its anchors back July catches fire in one of its engines.
Shell immediately tries to downplay the incident and refuses even to call it an "incident" while other witnesses described the blast being felt 200 yards away. With the backfire Shell once again steal headlines, questioning their ability to operate in the harsh Arctic environment.
Save The Arctic
Save The Arctic
The melting Arctic is under threat from oil drilling. We want to create a global sanctuary around the North Pole, and ban offshore drilling and destructive industry in the Arctic. Sign the petition to join the millions who believe in protecting the Arctic.
Winter Is Coming
Shell announces the end of all drilling for 2012 calling the operation "several weeks of safe, successful drilling" while the rest of the world is recognizes an historic corporate failure in the Arctic.
Limited Beaufort Sea Drilling Begins
Knowing full well that they won't be able to drill the needed full depth of the well, Shell insists on bringing the Kulluk drill rig into action.
Due to damaged safety equipment Shell has announced that they won't be be able to drill into any potential oil layers this year.
They are only allowed to drill in the top layers due to a vital piece of safety equipment lacking approval from the US Coast Guard.
For over six months, millions of people have pressured Shell to stay out of the Arctic.
Company bosses announce that they are 'reassessing' their oil drilling programme for this year. A huge victory for people power.
Due to damaged safety equipment Shell has announced that they won't be be able to drill into any potential oil layers beneath the sea bed. Perhaps in an effort to calm concerned investors of the lack of results, Shell insist on drilling a so called tophole in the Beaufort Sea this fall before the oil company will have to abandon the Arctic for the winter.
Huge Ice Floe Delays Drilling
Encroaching ice forces Shell to stop drilling and move out of the way causing further delay to this years drilling programme.
Stopping operations after just 36 hours meant that Shell’s reckless Arctic drilling has cost them just under $2.1m per minute so far.
The ice floe measures 12 by 30 miles and it is expected to take a week before Shell can continue drilling opretions in the Chukchi Sea. The encroaching ice highlights the extreme dangers of Arctic drillings and shows how much Shell is at the mercy of elements in the harsh Arctic environment despite being multibillion dollar company.
Shell's other drill rig, the Kulluk, also remains in a holding position in the Beaufort Sea while the annual subsistence whale hunting is taking place. Shell's license to drill ends on September 24 in the Chukchi Sea and end October in the Beaufort Sea.
Shell announces that drilling has begun in the Chukchi Sea.
The oil company is only allowed to drill the first layers of the sea bed since one critical piece of equipment is still missing. A unique ice-class barge designed to clean up any oil spills has so far failed to meet US federal inspectors demands.
The equipment - an barge is designed to clean up any oil spill that might happen from Shell’s planned drillings in the Arctic later this summer - will have to stay in harbour until final Coast Guard certification is granted.
Oil companies like Shell are far from capable of operating safely in the Arctic and must be stopped before an oil spill happens. The remoteness and harsh environment will make any serious cleanup efforts impossible and oil in the fragile ecosystem will have devasting consequences.
Global Protests Gather Pace
After six month of delays and mishaps Shell hoped to begin drilling over the weekend, but stormy weather in the Chukchi Sea forces the company to wait.
A storm of global protest continues to sweep over Shell gas stations. In this picture an activist in Basel, Switzerland demands the Arctic saved from oil companies like Shell.
Even if the harsh Arctic weather will allow Shell to begin drilling any time soon the oil company will only be allowed to drill some few hundreds meter down. A key piece of safety equipment remains situated in Wellington, Washington awaiting final aproval from the authorities. Still, should a final approvel be issued the equipment will have to be towed for two weeks before reaching its destination in the Arctic.
Noble Discoverer leaves Dutch Harbour as protests continue.
As Shell moves toward the Arctic to begin drilling the oil company continues to face widespread protest. Here, a homeless polar bear visits Shell CEO Peter Voser's house in Switzerland.
Shell's scheme to drill for oil in Chukchi and Beaufort Sea has been six years in the making and has cost over $4.5 billion. Declaring their confidence in tackling the harsh Arctic environment, the company predicts it will begin drilling within the next couple of weeks.
Shell Loses Control
Shell quite literally runs into further problems with its near-farcical attempts to drill in the Arctic when its dilapidated drillship Noble Discoverer appeared to run aground after slipping its anchors in Dutch Harbour, Alaska, in what was described as a “stiff breeze.”
Whilst Shell denied its vessel had grounded, eyewitnesses painted a very different story, with one local saying that “the stern certainly struck bottom and any report to the contrary is a pure fabrication bordering on outright lies.” Either way, the bizarre scene of a giant rig floating aimlessly towards the shore in such sheltered waters does not say much for the ability of Shell to operate safely in the much more extreme conditions of the icy Polar north.
the stern certainly struck bottom and any report to the contrary is a pure fabrication bordering on outright lies
Shell Drill Rigs Depart for the Arctic
Shell's two drilling rigs, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk, leave Seattle en route to Dutch Harbor. Elsewhere, a polar bear joins with Greenpeace to build an ice wall to block the entrance to the Shell HQ in Amsterdam.
But one critical piece of equipment is missing in Shell's Arctic fleet: a unique ice-class barge designed to clean up any oil spills fails to meet US federal inspectors demands.
The barge is designed to clean up any oil that might spill from Shell’s planned drilling programme in the Arctic later this summer. The barge will have to stay in Washington state and no final drilling permits will be issued before the barge receives final Coast Guard certification even though both of Shell’s drilling rigs set sail for Alaska in late June.
The delay in certification adds another notch of uncertainty to Shell’s narrow window for operations in the Arctic, which already is tight because drilling must halt by September in the Chukchi Sea and by October in the Beaufort Sea to avoid the dangerous advance of sea ice that comes with winter.
With what turned out to be a more precise forecast than anybody would hope for, Greenpeace, The Yes Lab and members of the Occupy movement staged a private send-off party for Shell's oil drilling rig before leaving for the Arctic.
Drilling for oil in the Arctic is prone to accidents and consequently oil spills. The remoteness and harsh environment will make any serious cleanup efforts impossible and oil in the fragile ecosystem will have devasting consequences. In an effort to draw attentions to Shell's reckless plans Greenpeace, The Yes Lab and members of the Occupy movement decided to spoof a Shell PR event going south.
Staging the oil rig Kulluk's failure before leaving Seattle turned out to be an event you wouldn even think to be out of the ordinary looking back at Shell's summer of mishaps. Scroll the log of Shell's Fail Trail and explore for yourself.
Save The Arctic
The North Pole Expedition has come to an end and almost three million people’s names are now on the North Pole seabed along with the Flag for the Future. The struggle to Save the Arctic doesn’t stop here and you can still add your voice for the protection of the Arctic.
Our four young explorers on a mission with Greenpeace have planted a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole, at the same spot where a submarine planted a Russian flag claiming the Arctic for Moscow.
After a gruelling week-long trek across the frozen Ocean, over giant pressure ridges and around icy pools of open water, we planted our ‘flag for the future’ 4km beneath the ice at the top of the world and called for the region to be declared a global sanctuary.
The flag is attached to a glass and titanium time capsule containing the names of 2.7 million people who joined the campaign to Save the Arctic. We came to the Pole to say this special area of the Arctic belongs to no person and no nation, that it is the common heritage of everyone on Earth.
We offer these words with respect for those who came before us, and hope for those yet to be born.
The English rock band Arctic Monkeys are sending kind thoughts to the North Pole Expedition team on Twitter.
This weekend, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu expressed his support to the North Pole Expedition team members as they planted their ‘flag for the future’ four kilometers beneath the ice at the top of the world and called for the region to be declared a global sanctuary.
Team Aurora (L-R) Kiera Dawn Kolson of the Tso’Tine-Gwich’in nations in Northern Canada; Renny Bijoux from Seychelles — a nation under grave threat from climate change; Josefina Skerk, a Swedish-Sami student and member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden; 20-year-old musician and Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower show the ‘flag for the future’ designed by 13-year-old Sarah Batrisyia from Malaysia at the North Pole. A flag was attached to a glass and titanium time capsule containing the signatures of nearly three million people, including actors, musicians, artists and business leaders and planted on the seabed beneath the North Pole.
I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change.
This weekend the North Pole Expedition arrived at the top of the world and are now busy preparing to lower the capsule. It will take hours. The sea bed is 4.3 km down below. Here's two tweets from James Turner.
We finally made it to the top of the world! Arrived at the North Pole.Ecstatic but exhausted, a strange combination. But no rest for the wicked, been preparing all weekend to lower our capsule with your names to the seabed & declare it protected #2thepole#savethearctic
The Icy Arctic Treadmill
This week, the phenomenal team here has been learning first hand what I’ve been discovering more and more since first coming here 12 years ago: that the frozen North is an unpredictable, uncontrollable, unforgiving place.
The North Pole is a mathematical construct, an imaginary convergence of lines of longitude. But the North Pole — a stationary point — happens to be in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, and its shifting pack ice is subject to the forces of wind, current and tide. This ice movement is known as drift.
We have been living on this frozen ocean for the last week, and like any other team that comes here, we are trying to play mastermind with the drift, moving across an ever-shifting surface to reach the top of the world. Each day we’ve pushed north only to find ourselves back where we started the following morning.
Each day we’ve pushed north only to find ourselves back where we started the following morning.
Further reflections on the Arctic Council
You probably won't be surprised to hear that up here on the ice, we've been talking a lot about the Arctic Council over the last couple of days.
We feel like what happened with Gustaf Lind and the Arctic Council this week is a microcosm of the problems with it as an organisation. Unless you're already in the clique, you're locked out and have no voice. We're carrying the names of nearly three million people with us, who were all ignored yesterday. We wanted to deliver a simple message on behalf of all these people but they didn't want to hear.
We wonder why an organisation that is devoted to protecting the Artic would choose not to meet with this group of young people, who want to ensure it remains sacred and intact for future generations? Are they interested in what young people have to say, or do we need to own giant oil companies before we get invited into the club?
Perhaps we're not the right kind of young people, ones who might say awkward things about climate change and thinking for the long term.
At the North Pole, A New World
I'm writing this inside a small yellow tent on the frozen Arctic Ocean, while shoveling snow into a kettle.
I'm on my way to the North Pole with a group of young people to declare it protected and call for a sanctuary there. Today was hard, with giant pressure ridges of blocky ice barring our way and a strong southeastern wind pushing us backwards. But we're not alone -- we have millions of people behind us, and instant satellite communications. Where past explorers faced the utter strangeness of this great wilderness, I can now reach any other person on the planet in seconds.
It's easy to think that we have overcome nature, that we have mastered the art of survival and will never look back. Meanwhile, the earth on which we live is once again announcing its supreme relevance. Since the invention of the mouse, we've lost three quarters of summer Arctic sea ice. This region is warming faster than any other on earth, marking the release of each new iPod with a new record in temperature extremes, habitat loss, environmental crashes.
At some point we need to take action, to stand up and be counted against the brute force of the oil companies, lobbyists and politicians who willingly pollute our climate system.
Meet Kiera Kolson
North Pole Expedition member Kiera-Dawn Kolson is a Tso’Tine-Gwich’in youth from Denendeh in the Northwest Territories, Canada.
Kiera-Dawn is engaged in the protection of her traditional territory, culture and identity from industrial propositions for future generations and hopes to educate and empower others through her work.
We made camp for night even though we have sunlight 24 hours day. But rest is needed, the cold and the passing of large pressure ridges in the ice is taking its toll.
Blisters and a phenomenon known as ’the drift’ has been tough on our struggles northwards the last few days. Here are few pictures from the last couple of days. North Pole Expedition member Gavin Newman shot the first picture with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) he brought along.
Snubbed by the Arctic Council
I’m standing up here at the top of the world, 89.3 degrees North. It’s -31 degrees Celsius this morning and my fingers are frozen — but my blood is boiling.
Like thieves in the night, the Arctic Council have snuck in and left without meeting us. I am just so disheartened and disappointed that after negotiating with Gustaf Lind and the Arctic Council in good faith to meet them at the very place we’re trying to protect, we woke to find that they have now crept in and out of the North Pole under the cover of the midnight sun.
Tweet form James Turner team member of the sore feeted North Pole Expedition.
Stopping for lamb noodles; bad blisters slowing us down. But powering thru #2thepole, did 3km today; a few say it's the toughest day yet.
Statoil's oil madness
I’m eating butter straight out of the package to keep my body fat high enough to withstand the heat and to resupply myself with sufficient energy.
But this morning I’ve received an energy boost far better than any free-roaming cow can produce.
Before setting out, I got news from my friends and colleagues home in Norway that they took action today at the Statoil oil rig, West Hercules, that is about to set out to drill for oil in the Arctic.
After a hard day of skiing yesterday, recovering lost ground due to the phenomena known as ‘the drift’, the news from home makes the distance today feel like its going down hill. But trust me — we are going as straight north as possible.
Tweet from Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke after speaking on satellite phone with the North Pole Expedition team.
@jamesturn Good to talk to all of you just now. Bless your cotton socks.. Sorry thermal.
Tweet from a tired North Pole Expedition member James Turner, now camped approximately 20 km from the North Pole. James and the team have had a long day of recovering lost ground due to the nights 'drift'.
Josefina is a member of the sami community, the northernmost indigenous peoples in Europe.
She's a 26 year old law student and active voice in the sami parliament. Learn more about Josefina's journey to the North Pole - where Team Aurora will lower a flag for the future to the sea floor.
Navigating the North
Making sure your skis and compass point north might sound like the way to get to the North Pole.
Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as that. The right way may not always be the straight one, and in our case, this is what we've found to be true.
We have had to make our way around large pressure ridges and 'open leads' (little streams between the ice) with cold, cold water demanding that everybody pays special attention to avoid accidents.. And there are other challenges as well. This frozen ocean changes position all the time, and we are constantly being moved by what is known as "the drift". While fast asleep last night an unfavourable current has moved the ice southeast putting us further from the North Pole than we were when we made camp last night.
Fear not. The spirit is high and today we push north yet again. Determined to trek to the North Pole and lower a glass time capsule containing the 2.7 million names of supporters and plant a 'Flag for the Future' onto the seabed.
Tweet from expedition member Sol Guy. Sol’s passion is to connect art and activism, and living what he loves has taken him on a unique creative journey.
We touched down at Barneo base Friday afternoon, a small outpost of humanity in the middle of this great frozen ocean. It's created each year to serve polar explorers, scientists and now, Save the Arctic activists.
The base is a strange place, hovering between timezones. No one checked our passports when we arrived, because no one owns this land (yet). Our safety briefing was short and finished with a warning to look out for newly broken gaps between the ice and roaming polar bears — a strange new reality we are living in.
After a full day there we began to adapt to the cold outside. Number one rule is don't take your gloves off, even for 20 seconds. Avoid walking into the wind. Don't leave the tent without all your gear. Concentrate; focus. Cold management is a science more than an art — it requires discipline and tenacity.
The base is a strange place, hovering between timezones. No one checked our passports when we arrived, because no one owns this land (yet).
Tweet from expedition member James Turner, after a long day of traversing pressure ridges in the ice.
Set up camp for the night & are making dinner. Been a hard day, feels like 2 steps forward, 1 back, but spirits are up. Pics soon! #2thePole
in the middle of nowhere, freezing my toes, but po-ward we go! #2thePole
Meet Renny Bijoux
Renny is one of the four young ambassadors taking millions of names to the North Pole.
He's from the island republic of Seychelles, speaks 4 languages and is passionate about technology, cars and of course the environment!
The Trek Begins
The North Pole Expedition has started their trek! They left Barneo camp this morning and are skiing to the Pole.
The Stars Align Over the North Pole
Today is the day we have been all been waiting for, and we have some exciting news to share with you.
When we planned this expedition, our ambition was big already — to ski to the North Pole to lower a special pod and a flag for the future to the seabed below. But sometimes the stars align and things happen that you never could have expected.
Last week we discovered that representatives of the Arctic Council would be meeting at the North Pole for the first time ever. I wrote a letter to the chairperson of the council to ask whether he would consider meeting us at the exact place that we're working to protect. Then he called me on Friday and said he would try to make it happen — which is fantastic news for me and the three other young people with me.
"Do... or do not. There is no try"
Renny Bijoux is 30 years old and a youth ambassador from the Seychelles. Renny is popularly known as ‘Kastor’, a stage name he got while acting the main role in a musical play that traces slavery and how the first Seychellois was born in the early 19th century, performed by MCC.
So excited but look me in the eye and tell me it's not cold up here!
Tweet from Emma Watson who starred alongside expedition member Ezra Miller in the critically acclaimed 2012 comedy-drama 'The Perks of Beeing a Wallflower'.
Four young Arctic ambassadors. No polar experience. Just a hope for a better future
The team is not made up of Arctic explorers but members of a global movement three million strong. They are Ezra Miller, actor/musician from New York, USA, Josefina Skerk of the Sami people in Northern Sweden, Keira Kolson, a Tso'Tine-Gwich'in youth from the Northwest Territories, Canada, and Renny Bijoux from the Seychelles.
LET’S DECLARE A GLOBAL SANCTUARY IN THE ARCTIC
SIGN THE PETITION TO JOIN THE MILLIONS WHO BELIEVE IN PROTECTING THE ARCTIC
Ask world leaders to create a global sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole and a ban on oil drilling and industrial fishing in Arctic waters.
IN ANCIENT AND UP UNTIL RECENT TIMES THE ARCTIC WAS BELIEVED TO BE A PLACE OF MYTHICAL POWER. TODAY, THE MYTHICAL TALES STAND PALE IN COMPARISON TO REPORTS ON THE EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND OIL DRILLING, BUT PEOPLE VISITING THE ARCTIC STILL SPEAK OF THE AWE AND AMAZEMENT WHEN THEY ENCOUNTER THE WONDERS AND PEOPLE WHO ARE FOUND HERE.
THE ARCTIC NEEDS IMMEDIATE PROTECTION
The disappearance of Arctic ice does not only have severe impacts for the regions 4 million inhabitants and unique wildlife, but also causes alteration in weather patterns and subsequent extreme weather events. Our movement is calling for a global sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole and a ban on offshore oil drilling and large scale industrial fishing in the wider Arctic.
In recent years the Arctic has increasingly come under pressure from oil companies seeking to exploit oil and gas believed to exist in the ground. But drilling in the treacherous ice-filled waters of the Arctic Ocean is not safe. An oil spill is deemed impossible to clean up and will have devastating consequences for wildlife, the regions environment and the people living here.
In recent years the Arctic has increasingly come under pressure from oil companies seeking to exploit oil and gas believed to exist in the ground.
SOME SCIENTISTS PREDICT THAT WE COULD SEE ICE FREE SUMMERS ON THE NORTH POLE WITHIN A DECADE.
WILDLIFE UNDER THREAT
The whole world is feeling the consequences of climate change, but no other place feels the rapidly changing climate as the Arctic. In 2012 the Arctic sea ice melted to its lowest extent ever.
Polar bears, walruses, seals and many other animals are dependent on sea ice for their survival. Some scientists predict that we could see ice free summers on the North Pole within a decade.
No matter if it will be this decade or the next – disappearing sea ice is already having severe consequences for the wildlife in the Arctic.
As you explore this site, you will learn more about these animals, their habitats and the threats they face.
A VICIOUS CIRCLE
The melting sea ice in the Arctic is a consequence of our addiction to fossil fuels in the rest of the world. But what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. Like a giant air conditioner, the Arctic ice keeps our planet cool by reflecting sunlight back into space. As the Arctic sea ice melts the bare dark ocean is absorbing that sunlight, causing further temperature rise. In addition, the melting sea ice is also believed to cause extreme weather events further south like hurricane Sandy that hit New York City in 2012.
As the Arctic sea ice retreats, big oil is moving further north in their hunt for more oil. Instead of seeing the melting ice as a warning the oil companies sees it as a business opportunity.
Instead of seeing the melting ice as a warning the oil companies sees it as a business opportunity.
Just like the Arctic, intothearctic.gp is under constant change. The map reflects some of the most immediate threats to the regions fragile environment and the people living there. For this reason Into the Arctic should not be regarded as an exhaustive source to information on all industrial developments taking place in the region.
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is the world’s largest bear. Polar bears live on the ice-covered waters of the Arctic, relying almost entirely on the sea ice for their survival.
Polar bears do not exist as one large population throughout the Arctic, but are distributed as 19 more or less isolated groups of bears called stocks or populations.
They are found in Arctic areas of Canada, Greenland, mainland Norway, Russian Federation, Alaska, Svalbard and Jan-Mayen and on the ice surrounding the North.
However, due to major reductions of sea ice in the Arctic in the past few decades as a result of climate change, the polar bears’ essential habitat is under threat and with it their survival. Bears are already finding it hard to find sufgficient prey in some areas, and as a result their general body condition has declined. This is having impact both on their survival and their breeding success.
In 2007, a United States Geological Survey research team concluded that two thirds of the world’s polar bears could disappear by 2050 if business as usual emissions of greenhouse gases continue. There is however still hope for the polar bears if we manage to curb greenhouse gas emissions within the next few years. The results of mathematical climate models indicate that if greenhouse gases are mitigated, substantially more Arctic sea ice would be retained and polar bears could persist throughout this century in numbers greater than those predicted in the business as usual scenario.
Distribution and conservation status source: IUCN
However, due to major reductions of sea ice in the Arctic in the past few decades as a result of climate change, the polar bears’ essential habitat is under threat and with it their survival.
In Arctic regions, the walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) inhabits the Bering and Chukchi Seas of Russia and Alaska, the Laptev Sea in the west and the western Beaufort Sea in the east.
Walruses spend most of their lives associated with sea ice. They migrate with the ice as it expands and moves south in the winter, where the ice provides a platform for resting, feeding and breeding. During the spring and summer the male walruses remain mainly on land, whereas large numbers of the females stay on the ice with their calves, on which they rest and nurse their young.
Over the past several decades the extent of Arctic summer sea ice has decreased. This retreat has caused problems for the walrus. They now have to either continue to use the ice in deeper waters where there is little access to food, or move to the land. If sea ice continues to decline in thickness and extent or if seasonal sea ice retreat occurs rapidly, it is also possible that female walruses will have difficulty nourishing themselves and caring for their young. It is clear that shrinking ice in the Arctic is already affecting the walrus.
Distribution and conservation status source: IUCN
They now have to either continue to use the ice in deeper waters where there is little access to food, or move to the land.
N/A Data Deficient
N/A Data Deficient
Up to 40 years
Up to 1.4 tons
The Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) inhabits tundra regions throughout the Arctic. It is present in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, Russia and Scandinavia. The foxes live on tundra in both inland and coastal areas.
Foxes living in the inland tundra areas prey mainly on lemmings and voles. These inland foxes do not usually breed in years when lemming populations are low. Arctic foxes living in coastal regions rely more on seabirds and their eggs and chicks as a source of prey.
Scientists propose that there are now two major threats facing Arctic foxes due to a shrinking habitat as a consequence of climate change:
Firstly, foxes inhabiting the lower tundra regions might lose their habitat due to a predicted northwards movement of boreal forest with the warming temperatures. Arctic foxes cannot survive so well in this forest environment. Also the lemming populations will likely decline and this will impact further on the fox’s survival. Furthermore, red foxes are predicted to move northwards and thereby pose a direct threat to the Arctic fox, as the red fox can kill its Arctic equivalent.
The second major threat to the foxes inhabiting more northerly areas is that of retreating sea ice, which makes it harder for them to travel long distances both to feed and to breed.
Distribution and conservation status source: IUCN
Scientists propose that there are now two major threats facing Arctic foxes due to a shrinking habitat as a consequence of climate change
Several hundred thousand
The Arctic is home to several species of seals known as ice seals. These include ribbon seals, bearded seals, ringed seals, spotted seals, harp seals and hooded seals.
Ice seals are reliant on the ice for rearing their young, moulting and resting, and the sea ice must be sufficiently stable for them to rear pups. There is currently great concern over the impact that reduced sea ice is having on these seals.
For bearded seals, the loss of pack ice threatens their ability to breed, as they use it to give birth and rear their pups. Besides, it is lowering the food supply on their shallow foraging grounds in the Bering Sea.
Ringed seals live mainly in the high Arctic and are dependent on the sea ice for birthing, pup rearing, and resting. Ringed seals build lairs or snow dens on the sea ice for shelter. Since the ice is melting earlier in the year than previously, pups can be separated prematurely from their mothers, greatly reducing their chances of survival. Also, warmer spring temperatures cause the roofs of their lairs to collapse too early, leaving ringed seals without shelter and exposed to predators.
Distribution and conservation status source: IUCN
Ice seals are reliant on the ice for rearing their young, moulting and resting, and the sea ice must be sufficiently stable for them to rear pups.
Bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) live in the Arctic and adjacent seas. Their range extends nearly all around the Arctic Circle.
Historically all bowhead whale populations were severely depleted by commercial hunting, and by the time commercial hunting ceased to occur, the whales were in very low numbers. However, their population has grown in more recent years. Today, the main threat is loss of sea ice due to climate change. There has also been concern since the 1970s that disturbance from oil and gas exploration and extraction activities in the Arctic region might affect bowhead whales.
Bowheads are well adapted to ice-covered waters although they also use open water habitats. In winter, ice covered waters provide safe habitat for calving and rearing the young, because the ice protects them from killer whales. Consequently, loss of sea ice can increase the threat of predation by killer whales.
An increase in temperature and solar radiation is feared to have negative effects on the bowheads. Their extensive blubber layer makes the whales heat intolerant which can become a problem with ice free waters.
Distribution and conservation status source: IUCN
In winter, ice covered waters provide safe habitat for calving and rearing the young, because the ice protects them from killer whales.
Narwhals (Monodon monoceros) are toothed cetaceans which live in the Arctic all throughout the year.
The iconic animal is listed as near threatened, and in numbers approximately 80,000 whales live in Baffin Bay and 7,000 in the Greenland Sea.
Narwhals are slow swimmers, and their ability to dive to the depths for prey makes them a natural inhabitant of deep or offshore waters. They are highly adapted to dense pack ice and can survive in this environment for long periods of time, although entrapment do occur.
Wintertime means intensively feeding for narwhals, and Greenland halibut is the main prey; in summer the whales dive to shallower depths, where they eat less.
These animals are ranked among the most sensitive to climate change due to their narrow geographic distribution, relatively small population size, slow reproduction and dependence on sea ice including specialized feeding linked to sea ice. With warming, species are expected to extend northwards, and their feeding opportunities expected to be damaged. As sea ice cover shrinks they will be exposed to their predators.
Distribution and conservation status source: IUCN
With global warming, species are expected to extend northwards, and their feeding opportunities expected to be damaged.
Est. 100 years+
As one of the biggest energy companies on the planet, Shell is at the forefront of the dangerous rush to open up the Arctic to oil development.
The company has spent billions of dollars buying license blocks and attempting exploratory drilling in the far north, focussing mainly in Alaska, but after a disastrous programme in 2012 that was characterised by repeated safety blunders, the company announced it was pausing operations for 2013. However, Shell remains committed to drilling in the Arctic and is determined to return to the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas as soon as they can.
To resume exploratory drillings in 2014
Bio. US$ 467
tar sands, deep- and ultra-deep sea drilling, shale oil, shale gas
Burger A + B + F + J + R + S + V
Sivilluq N + J, Torpedo H + J
The state-owned Norwegian oil company Statoil, is known domestically for its high standards on offshore drilling.
However the wider reality is that, as a consequence of its state-sanctioned Statoil activities, Norway has become one of the most aggressive states in the Arctic. Despite the fact that Norway should be leading the way in halting climate change, for which Norway holds its fair share of the blame, Norway is striding ahead, pushing forward the boundaries of Arctic oil exploration, and Statoil will this summer drill for oil further north than any other company or state.
Exploratory drillings in 2013
Bio. US$ 117
tar sands, tight oil, shale gas, deep sea drilling
Hoop 7325 + 7423
Rosneft are world champions in onshore Arctic oil spills, contributing to the destruction of lives of thousand of people and devastating the environment of a whole region.
The company has left Siberia in a state of environmental disaster with over 14,000 pipeline ruptures annually. It is hard to believe Rosneft will show any greater responsibility to environmental issues when developing the offshore Arctic.
Seismic activity in 2013, exploratory drillings in 2014
SHKM 15033 NR
SHKM 15034 NR
"Geolog Dmitriy Nalivkin", "Geofizik"
SHKM 15035 NR
"Geolog Dmitriy Nalivkin", "Geofizik"
SHPM 15032 NR
"Akademik Lazarev", "Geofizik"
SHBM 15307 NR
"Akademik Lazarev", "Geofizik"
SHBM 15306 NR
Gazprom – the most urgent threat to the Arctic – is planning to launch industrial drilling at the Prirazlomnoe oil field in second quarter of 2013.
Gazprom ignores the well-documented fact that there are no existing technologies to effectively clean up oil spills in the Arctic Ocean. Previously classified government documents state that dealing with oil spills in the freezing waters is "almost impossible" and inevitable mistakes would shatter the fragile Arctic environment.
Oil production in 2013
SHPCH No 11323 NE
SHPM No 13443 NE
Together with millions of people Greenpeace is calling for a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole. We call for a new approach to the problem of climate change based on unity, respect and peace.
The uninhabited area around the North Pole is an area where no nation has yet established sovereignty. We have a chance to set a different course for the future, one that values the rights of all people as well as future generations.
We believe that our leaders should also ban destructive industry elsewhere in the Arctic. We urge countries to be bold, and work together for the benefit of all life on earth.
Join us. #SaveTheArctic
We have a chance to set a different course for the future, one that values the rights of all people as well as future generations.
The Arctic is under pressure from oil companies seeking to exploit its fossil resources. They see
the melting of the sea ice, not as a warning, but as a business opportunity. Take a journey
into the Arctic and explore for yourself its natural wonders, the threat of the
encroaching oil industry, and follow the struggle to Save the Arctic.
CONFRONTING ARCTIC OIL
By signing the petition you can join the millions of people who believe in protecting the Arctic.
There is no government or army to protect the Arctic, only countries and companies looking to carve it up.
Greenpeace is returning to the Arctic to expose and confront the reckless oil industry at the scene of the crime.