Greenpeace activists boarded a vessel chartered by Shell en route to the British North Sea to protest the energy company’s continued fossil fuel production.
An environmental campaign group said four activists climbed onto the carrying ship Shellfloating production storage and offloading unit, or FPSO, on Tuesday morning north of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean while en route to the Penguins oil and gas field northeast of the Shetland Islands.
Video footage showed protesters approaching the giant FPSO in small boats and rough seas before pulling themselves aboard using ropes and unfurling a banner reading: “Stop Drilling. Start paying.”
The U.K.-listed energy major is on track to post record annual revenue of about $40 billion when it reports its 2022 financial results on Thursday. Like its rivals, Shell has benefited from soaring oil and gas prices energy crisis unleashed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and sparked new calls for higher taxes.
Greenpeace said it was the first time it had taken direct action against an oil and gas company’s operations in the North Sea since activists boarded a BP oil rig leaving a Scottish port in 2019.
Yeb Saño, a Greenpeace activist involved in the protest, said Shell must “take responsibility for decades of profiting from climate injustice” and pay for the “losses and damages” it has caused.
Oil producers have faced protests from groups such as Greenpeace for decades, but have come under increased pressure in recent years due to broader calls to slow or stop fossil fuel production to help reduce global emissions. In 2019, Shell pulled out of developing the Cambo oil field, west of Shetland, which has become a hotbed of environmental activism.
Shell, like most major energy companies, has pledged to reduce emissions from its operations, but says it still needs to invest in oil and gas production to meet global demand as the world transitions to cleaner forms of energy.
The Penguins field, 241 km northeast of the Shetland Islands, has been producing oil since 2002. In 2018, Shell approved plans to extend the life of the project by drilling eight new wells to be connected to the new FPSO, following the previously connected infrastructure. to the field was decommissioned. Penguins is expected to produce about 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day once the rebuild is complete.
“Projects like Penguins are vital to this offer and help reduce the UK’s dependence on higher carbon imports and more expensive energy,” Shell said.
The protesters’ actions “caused real safety concerns as a number of people boarded a moving vessel in rough conditions,” Shell added. “We respect everyone’s right to express their opinion. It is important that they do so with their own safety and the safety of others in mind.’
Shell declined to comment on whether the protest would slow or halt shipping, referring questions to Boskalis, the Dutch marine services company contracted to transport the FPSO. Boskalis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.