Police to make arrests in effort to end North Sea standoff

Greenpeace campaigner Sarah North holds a banner whilst floating in front of BP rig on day 11 of the protest in the North Sea.
Greenpeace campaigner Sarah North holds a banner whilst floating in front of BP rig on day 11 of the protest in the North Sea.

Police Scotland is seeking to make further arrests as it attempts to bring an end to a bitter North Sea standoff between oil giant BP and the climate activist group Greenpeace.

It confirmed last night that it had submitted a report to the Procurator Fiscal understood to be over concerns of criminality relating to a 500 meter exclusion zone designed to protect the Transocean installation, the Paul B Loyd Jnr.

Oil and gas representative body for the North Sea, Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), also came out strongly against the climate group calling for it to halt its current action.

Speaking following a crunch meeting on the issue, it described Greenpeace behaviour as “dangerous” and “wholly unacceptable”.

Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the Scottish Government was “keeping a watchful eye” on developments.

Activists have successfully halted the BP-contracted drilling rig from reaching the Vorlich field on several occasions over the last three days, using the Artic Sunrise vessel to block its path.

In its latest attempt to stop the rig from anchoring in the North Sea, Greenpeace allowed a protestor to swim into the path of the Paul B Loyd Jnr yesterday.

Greenpeace said it had “used every possible peaceful means to stop BP drilling for more oil”.

Police have already made a series of arrests over perceived criminal acts by Greenpeace in the 11 day standoff.

Police Scotland said the latest attempt to bring arrests was in connection to alleged offences under the Petroleum Act 1987 following an incident near to the rig on the morning of Sunday 16 June 2019.

Mr Wheelhouse told the Press and Journal during a visit to oilfield firm Baker Hughes GE yesterday that Scotland needed to be “honest with itself” on its dependence on oil and gas to fulfil 75% of its energy consumption and that it required access to “secure supplies”.

He added: “We are in contact with our counterparts to make sure this is resolved safely.”

OGUK communications director Gareth Wynn said: “What we need now is sensible and pragmatic discussion with government, other industries and wider society about how we will do it and to make the informed choices that are needed.

“Prematurely shutting down production from the North Sea only increases our reliance on imports.”

A spokeswoman for the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We are monitoring the situation and are in daily contact with BP and the Scottish Government.

“We are confident that Police Scotland are examining all options to bring the protest to a safe end.”

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