Greenpeace boss in court as BP’s rig operator seeks jail and unlimited fines over rig protest

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

Home » ‘We will not be silenced’

Published: 24 February 2020

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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BP’s rig operator, Transocean, will today (24 Feb) ask Scottish courts to jail Greenpeace’s boss and punish the campaigning group with huge fines.

The offshore drilling contractor is taking legal action against Greenpeace UK after activists blocked a BP rig from drilling new oil wells in the North Sea for 12 days in June last year.

Facing jail and fines

Transocean secured an interim interdict, with BP’s consent, which Greenpeace is accused of breaching by continuing its protest.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven faces up to two years in prison, and Greenpeace faces unlimited fines if found to be in contempt of court.

BP and the climate emergency

In Edinburgh’s Court of Session before judge Lady Wolffe, Greenpeace will argue that its actions to disrupt the BP rig were necessary in order to prevent BP from worsening our climate emergency by drilling wells to extract 30 million barrels of oil.

The world’s scientists tell us that we cannot burn all the oil and gas we already have, so any new development of oil and gas fields would be disastrous for our climate.

‘Six months after our rig action ended, and after getting a permanent interdict against Greenpeace, BP’s rig operator Transocean is desperately doing everything it can to scare us off.

‘But we will not be silenced. We will stand up proudly in court to defend our peaceful protest.

‘Stopping BP’s rig was our moral duty when faced with oil giants fuelling the climate emergency, threatening the safety of our planet and putting lives at risk.’

JOHN SAUVEN
Greenpeace UK executive director

Unlawful drilling permit?

In a separate legal case, Greenpeace has been granted permission to judicially review BP’s drilling permit for the Vorlich oil field east of Aberdeen.

Greenpeace argues that the permit is unlawful because there was no proper public consultation. The permit was never officially published by the government, which meant BP’s permit could not be challenged by the public.

New oil and gas

BP’s new chief executive, Bernard Looney, has attempted to reassure campaigners that BP has turned over a new leaf on climate. However, there is no change in BP’s current plans to spend $71bn on new oil and gas development this decade.

Today’s hearing is Big Oil’s latest attempt to stifle climate campaigners through legal action. In December Shell secured a ban on Greenpeace International targeting its North Sea oil rigs in the Brent field.

Shell’s lawyers are Pinsent Masons, the same law firm that is representing Transocean in today’s case.

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