Updated: Industry chief says Greenpeace ‘undermining’ its own credibility with rig protest

Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK
Deirdre Michie, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK

An oil industry leader has accused Greenpeace of “undermining its own credibility” by reviving its protest on an oil rig in Cromarty Firth.

Campaigners climbed back on board the rig early Friday morning – just hours after police and operators BP thought the demonstration had been brought to an end with the arrest of two protesters.

Undeterred by security however, two more activists attached themselves to another leg of the Paul B Loyd Jr at 4am – preventing it from heading out to the North Sea to begin drilling.

But on Friday night, they were taken off the rig – in a cage that was lowered down to a waiting boat.

The two were arrested, along with three others on land – bringing the total number of arrests to 14.

Chief Superintendent George Macdonald said: “Officers returned to the platform around 2pm and, after deploying specialist tactics to access the area, subsequently arrested a man and woman who had been carrying out a continued protest on the rig.

“The safety of everyone involved has remained
our main priority throughout this challenging operation.”

As police were flown back on to the platform on Friday, the chief executive of Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said the re-occupation was “disappointing” and was not helping to move the debate on.

Deirdre Michie said: “This is disappointing and our industry, with its focus on safe operations, will not condone these actions.

“By going back on board the rig, Greenpeace is undermining its own credibility and not helping to move the debate on.

“OGUK is focused on playing a constructive role in solving the UK’s dual energy challenge and we would urge anyone and everyone who wants to be part of the solution to work with us in resolving the challenges that we need to face together”

Greenpeace had sent for its 949-tonne icebreaker ship Arctic Sunrise, but BP took out an injunction to prevent it heading any further north than Sunderland.

BP said it supported debate and peaceful demonstration, but labelled Greenpeace’s actions as “irresponsible”, accusing the campaign group of putting other people at risk.

It is understood the 92 crew members on the rig have had to stay in the accommodation unit most of the week for safety reasons.

Rosie Rogers, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “We realise working on a rig is a tough job at the best of times – these are dedicated, hard-working people.

“Our argument remains with BP, which continues to fuel the climate emergency, not with the workers.”

And John Sauven, Greenpeace’s executive director, said protestors would continue making a stand.