It’s not often that you meet a life size polar bear on your way into work but that is what greeted staff at Cairn Energy in Edinburgh this morning. The Scottish oil and explorer is being targeted by Greenpeace as part of an ongoing campaign to stop the company from exploring in the waters of the Arctic off Greenland.
Several activists – along with the bear – blockaded the entrance to Cairn’s office. Earlier in the day, Geenpeace along with other environment organisations WWF and Friends of the Earth wrote to Sir Bill Gammell, Cairn’s CEO, demanding he publishes the company’s emergency response plan to any incident or accident in the Arctic. Activists from the group scaled one of the rigs Cairn was using last year in Greenland and managed to stop work there for a bit.
Cairn, which is preparing to drill four wells in the Arctic this summer for around $600m, has insisted that safety is a key part of its drilling campaign but environmentalists are worried in particular after last year’s BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Arctic – with its pristine environment but also wealth of oil and gas reserves (the US Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic as a whole – which is much bigger than just the area around Greenland – could hold 90bn barrels of oil and gas, the equivalent of three times the proved reserves of the US) – is polarising opinion among stakeholders in the industry.
With some of the world’s largest oil companies including ExxonMobil having won exploration licences off Greenland’s shores recently, we can expect to see more of Greenpeace.