MOSCOW, August 24 (RIA Novosti) – A Greenpeace ship that Russia prohibited from entering the Northern Sea Route has ignored the ban to protest state oil company Rosneft’s operations in the Arctic, the environmental group said Saturday.
The Arctic Sunrise entered the Kara Sea on Friday and is heading toward several exploration vessels operating for Rosneft and its US-based partner ExxonMobil at the East-Prinovozemelsky oil field, the group said in a statement.
The Greenpeace ship is determined to stage peaceful protests against the Russian state firm as well as the government’s sanctioning of oil exploration in Arctic national parks and wildlife reserves, where 1.2 million square kilometers of previously protected territories have been opened for oil drilling, the group said.
The Northern Sea Route’s Russian administration last week prohibited the Arctic Sunrise from entering those waters, citing paperwork problems.
It remained unclear what sanctions the Arctic Sunrise would face for disregarding the ban, though a Greenpeace spokeswoman told RIA Novosti that the group’s legal team had deemed the risks “acceptable.” Northern Sea Route rules spell out no penalties for ignoring them.
Greenpeace said the ban was an attempt to stop its campaign against plans for offshore drilling in the Arctic. The Arctic Sunrise also tracked a Rosneft exploration vessel in the Barents Sea for two days last week.
Environmental groups oppose Arctic drilling plans on the grounds that a potential oil spill would be impossible to clean up using modern technologies.
Rosneft on Wednesday offered to give Greenpeace a television set because television news programs would provide the environmentalists with “objective information” about the company’s operations. Greenpeace declined the offer.