Greenpeace protesters boarded a drilling ship yesterday to try to stop it heading for a deep water well in the North Sea.
Environmental campaigners used boats to reach the 700ft Stena Carron a mile off Shetland, and then climbed up the giant rungs of its anchor chain.
Victor Rask, 38, and Anais Schneider, 29, then settled into a tent suspended by ropes from one of the rungs.
The duo have supplies to maintain their protest for up to two weeks, and more North Sea operations could be targeted in the coming days.
Greenpeace said that the Stena Carron, owned by Aberdeen’s Stena Drilling but operated by US energy giant Chevron, was about to sail for a site in the Lagavulin oil field before drilling an exploratory well in 1,600ft of water.
Since the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, environmental campaigners have joined forces with politicians across the world to demand a ban on new deep water drilling.
Speaking by satellite phone from the tent, Ms Schneider said: “It was incredible to climb up the anchor chain, the rungs were almost as big as I am and Chevron’s drilling ship is one of the biggest things I’ve ever seen at sea.
“I’m in the tent now and we have supplies, meaning we can stop it leaving to drill for oil in deep water.
“Shetland is so beautiful and an oil spill here could devastate this area. It’s time to go beyond oil. Our addiction is harming the climate, the natural world and our chances of building a clean energy future.”
Greenpeace is threatening legal action against the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in an effort to stop the granting of new permits for deep water drilling off the UK.
Last month Greenpeace lawyers wrote a so-called “letter before action” to ministers – the precursor to seeking a judicial review of the decision to push ahead with new deep water drilling before the lessons from the BP disaster have been learned.
The pair have just returned from a Greenpeace expedition to the Arctic where they were members of the team which halted drilling on a rig operated by Cairn Energy.
Shetland Coastguard said they were notified of yesterday’s incident at 11.20am.
A spokeswoman said: “We are monitoring the situation for the safety of all concerned.”
A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said: “We are working with partner agencies to resolve the incident peacefully, whilst seeking to minimise any risk to anyone involved.”
A Chevron spokesman said: “Chevron North Sea is appealing to Greenpeace to immediately stop their actions at the Stena Carron while it is going about its lawful business in Bressay Sound. This kind of action is foolhardy and demonstrates that Greenpeace is willing to put its volunteers at risk to carry out such reckless publicity stunts, and we are concerned for the safety of those involved.”
Greenpeace’s Esperanza vessel, which was used in the Arctic protest, docked in Aberdeen harbour last week and will leave the north-east in “the next few days”.