image credit: Greenpeace UK

The Greenpeace ship Esperanza is currently protesting deep sea oil drilling in the Arctic by UK firm Cairn Energy, the first company granted permission to drill in Greenland’s icy and environmentally sensitive waters.

Cairn Energy is also one of the targets of the recent Climate Camp protests in Edinburgh, where the company is based.

Greenpeace campaigner Leila Deen is quoted in an article in the Independent:

To see a huge drilling rig in this beautiful and fragile environment is deeply shocking. The tragic oil disasters in the Gulf and in China this year clearly illustrate the need to go beyond oil. Companies like Cairn need to leave the Arctic alone and start developing the clean tools that will actually help us get off fossil fuels for good.

A Danish Navy vessel was sent to protect Cairn’s two drilling sites in the area, along with the announcement that the Esperanza would be raided and its captain arrested if it breaches a 500-meter exclusion zone. The Danish Navy ship confronted the Greenpeace vessel on Monday.

Greenland is an independent country, but also a part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

A Guardian article on the situation says the Arctic ‘is set to become the scene of the world’s last great dash for oil’, yet it is still not known whether the sites being drilled will produce any actual oil.

From a report by the Associated Press:

Although seismic data indicate that the area could have gas and oil reserves, Cairn’s finding doesn’t necessarily mean that oil has been found, said Erling Halfdan Stenby, a chemistry professor at Denmark’s Technical University.