Scottish court asked to jail Greenpeace chiefs

A Scottish court has been asked to jail or heavily fine the Greenpeace directors who authorized direct action against a North Sea oil rig as part of a protest at global warming.

US oil company Transocean has begun legal action for contempt of court against Greenpeace after activists earlier this year occupied one of its oil rigs in the Cromarty Firth in northern Scotland and chased it out to sea.

Early in June Greenpeace defied a court order banning it from occupying the rig, which was being operated by Transocean on behalf of BP and had nearly 100 workers onboard. Fourteen people were arrested during the protest, including activists occupying the rig, Greenpeace support staff on shore and photographers working for group.

It is the second time this month Greenpeace has been taken to court in Scotland for organizing climate protests against North Sea oil rigs. At the beginning of the month Shell won an interim interdict banning Greenpeace from going within 500 metres of its four oil rigs in the Brent field, which is 85 miles north-east of Shetland. In October Greenpeace occupied two rigs that were being decommissioned. Greenpeace is defending the action by Transocean.

Transocean has claimed that the Greenpeace occupation was costing it £140,000 a day. Greenpeace activists occupied and obstructed the Paul B Loyd Jr rig for 12 days, preventing it from being taken back out to BP’s Vorlich field in the North Sea.  Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise then followed the rig out to sea, forcing Transocean into evasive action for several days.

Last week Lady Carmichael upheld Shell’s claims the protesters were breaching its property rights and putting activists’ safety at risk.