Russia shuts Greenpeace out of Arctic Sea route, stifles criticism of oil industry



Wednesday August 21 (Barents Sea) - The Russian Government has denied permission for the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise to enter the increasingly busy Northern Sea Route (NSR), despite the ship having fulfilled all the requirements for such an entry.

Greenpeace
International claims the decision is an attempt to prevent it from exposing the
activities of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft. Multiple vessels
contracted by Rosneft and US partner ExxonMobil are conducting seismic testing
and geological work in the Kara Sea  - in preparation for offshore Arctic
drilling.

“This is a
thinly veiled attempt to stifle peaceful protest and keep international
attention away from Arctic oil exploration in Russia. The Arctic Sunrise is a fully
equipped icebreaker with significant experience of operating in these
conditions, while the oil companies operating here are taking unprecedented
risks in an area teeming with polar bears, whales, and other Arctic wildlife,”
says Christy Ferguson, Greenpeace Arctic Campaigner onboard the Arctic Sunrise.

“The
decision to deny us entry to the Kara sea is completely unjustified, and raises
serious questions about the level of collusion between the Russian authorities
and the oil companies themselves. Over three million people are behind our
campaign, and they want to know what Russia and its Western oil partners are
trying to hide here in the Arctic.”

Greenpeace
International entered three detailed applications for entry to the Northern Sea
Route Administration, clearly stating its intentions to engage in peaceful and
lawful protest. All applications were rejected. (1) The latest application was
refused on the grounds that the information provided on the ice strengthening
was apparently insufficient. From the pattern of refusals it is clear that the
NSR administration has never been interested in granting Greenpeace access. The
refusal is in violation of international law including the right to freedom of
navigation (2).

None of the
six oil exploration vessels operating for Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the area
has an ice classification as high as the Arctic
Sunrise
. More than 400 vessels have been granted access to the
Northern Sea Route this year, many of them with an inferior classification to
that of the Arctic Sunrise,
which is classed as an icebreaker (3).

Greenpeace
International has written to the head of the Northern Sea Route Administration
with an urgent request to reverse the unjustified decision. As the Arctic Sunrise is a Dutch
flagged-vessel, a copy of the letter has also been sent to the Dutch
Infrastructure and Foreign Ministries.

The Greenpeace
ship Arctic Sunrise
is on a month-long expedition in the Arctic to expose and protest oil
exploration as part of a global campaign which has attracted over 3.5 million
people at www.savethearctic.org

Contact

Stefano Gelmini, Greenpeace,
07506 512 442

Sune Scheller, Greenpeace, +45 27144257

Further
information

Statement
from the independent Det Norske Veritas (DNV) on the classification of the Arctic Sunrise: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/climate/2013/DNV-classification-letter.pdf

Letter from
Greenpeace International to head of the Northern Sea Route Administration: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/climate/2013/2013-08-19-Letter-to-Northern-Sea-Route-Administration.pdf

Notes

The first two
applications were rejected on the basis that it was not clear what level of ice
strengthening the vessel has, despite the presentation of a Classification
Certificate from Det Norske Veritas (DNV), an internationally recognised
classification society, confirming that the Arctic
Sunrise
is classed as an 1A1 ICEBREAKER, the second highest
notation available at the time of construction and a notation superior to Arc6
in the Russian system (DNV Polar 10 notification:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/climate/2013/DNV-POLAR-10-notation.pdf
and a comparison
between the different standards of ice strengthening:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/international/briefings/climate/2013/comparison-different-rules-ice-strengthening.pdf
)

The third
application was rejected on the basis of an alleged lack of information on the
ice belt breadth of the vessel:
http://www.nsra.ru/files/zayavka/20130816160704о�каз%20а�к�ик.pdf
. This issue was not
raised at the time of refusal of the first two applications. The Arctic Sunrise is classed
as an icebreaker until a hull depth of 4.70m. There is no defined ‘Ice belt
breadth’ mentioned in the Class Certificate or appendix thereto, nor on the
General Arrangement Plan. ‘Breadth’ is not the right dimension to ask for. What
is normally of interest is the width / thickness of the plating at ice draft
4.70m. For this, the shell expansion plan should be referred to, but it is not
one of the documents that is required by the application form.

Further, the
relevant area is ice free at this time of year.

The decision to deny
the Arctic Sunrise entry to the Kara Sea is contrary to Russia’s obligation
under
Article 58 of the Law of the Sea Convention
to allow foreign
vessels freedom of navigation in its EEZ, and its obligations under Articles
10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights
to refrain from
unjustified interferences with freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Overview of the more than 400 permissions
granted in 2013 to enter the Northern Sea Route: http://www.nsra.ru/en/razresheniya/


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