Greenpeace activists removed from oil rig

14 June 2019, 11:54 | Updated: 14 June 2019, 11:56

Oil Rig North Sea

Two Greenpeace activists who were occupying an oil rig have been removed from the structure and arrested, police said.

Officers boarded the rig in the Cromarty Firth at around 2pm on Thursday and arrested two men, aged 40 and 50, ending a five-day protest.

Campaigners from the environmental organisation had been occupying the structure since Sunday evening.

They were calling on BP to stop drilling for oil and hoped to stop the drilling rig from reaching the Vorlich oil field.

Chief Superintendent George Macdonald, Highlands and Islands divisional commander, said: "The particular nature of this protest on an oil platform within a marine environment made this an extremely complex and challenging operation.

"The safety of all involved was of paramount importance and we have utilised highly trained specialist officers from across the entirety of Police Scotland to deal with this incident.

"Police Scotland fully understand the rights and privileges of peaceful protests, however, there is a balance when such actions are potentially reckless and compromise safety.

"We also have a duty to act where criminality is suspected or identified."

Greenpeace said that on Thursday a police helicopter was seen landing on the rig's helideck, dropping off a group of police officers in climbing gear.

The organisation said that rig operators then started lowering the structure into the sea to bring the climbers closer to the water's edge.

Greenpeace said that two police boats then approached the rig while police climbers approached the activists from above and removed a banner reading "climate emergency" from the gantry.

The activists were occupying a gantry on a leg of the 27,000-tonne rig below the main deck.

The pair who first boarded the rig on Sunday were relieved by two more activists on Monday evening.

Greenpeace UK's executive director John Sauven said: "Our activists have blocked BP's rig for four long days, braving the rain and the cold, to stop this oil giant from fuelling the climate emergency.

"They've now been arrested but there are many more ready to take action."

He added: "Business as usual is not an option - we won't give up until BP ditches fossil fuels and switches to renewables."

Police said the two men who were arrested were taken to shore by boat, bringing the total number of people arrested in connection with the operation to nine.

The force said that inquiries are ongoing.

The Transocean PBLJ rig was under contract to BP.

A BP spokesman said: "BP is grateful for the support of Police Scotland, Transocean and all authorities who helped bring this incident to a safe conclusion. It was a complex operation that required specialist skills and resources to be mobilised from across the country and was carried out in a professional and respectful manner.

"Police Scotland, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Port of Cromarty Firth worked together, dedicating time and resources in response to the protestors' actions. This response diverted significant time and resources away from public services, including Police Scotland.

"BP supports discussion, debate and peaceful demonstration, but the irresponsible actions of Greenpeace put themselves and others unnecessarily at risk.

"We share the protesters' concerns about climate change, we support the Paris agreement and are committed to playing our part to advance the energy transition.

"However, progress to a lower carbon future will depend on coming together, understanding each other's perspectives and working to find solutions, not dangerous PR stunts that exacerbate divisions and create risks to both life and property."