29 May 2014, 16:48

Norwegian police remove Greenpeace activists from Statoil oil rig in Arctic

Norwegian police remove Greenpeace activists from Statoil oil rig in Arctic

Norwegian police have removed seven Greenpeace activists who boarded a Statoil oil rig in the Barents sea to protest plans to drill a new Arctic site, the company said Thursday.

"The activists on board the Transocean Spitsbergen are now in the hands of Norwegian police," Statoil said in a statement.

The environmentalists were part of a group of 15 activists who on Tuesday boarded the oil rig, which is due to drill the Scandinavian country's northernmost well in the Hoop area of the Barents Sea

The drilling site is near Norway's Bear Island, the southernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, a nature reserve since 2002.

Receding ice in the Arctic caused by global warming is making drilling possible in areas that were out of reach only decades ago.

"The activists are standing up for the Arctic and Bear Island," Greenpeace Arctic campaigner Sune Scheller said in a statement.

"They want to save this pristine and harsh environment from oil spills."

According to Greenpeace, the activists are from Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Philippines and Sweden, and among them was a Finn who spent two months in prison in Russia for a similar action in September last year.

The NGO said they were taken to land in Norway, questioned by the police and then freed.

"The removal happened peacefully, and Transocean Spitsbergen is now moving towards the drilling site a few hours further North," Greenpeace said in a statement.

The seven activists removed on Thursday were the last to leave the rig, after five were voluntarily helicoptered to land and three decided to return to a Greenpeace ship Wednesday.

The rig was in international waters and is registered on the Marshall Islands, which asked Norway to assist in the removal of the activists, according to a statement issued by Norwegian police.

Greenpeace filed a complaint against the rig's project and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment still has to decide if Statoil can drill in the Hoop field.

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