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Shell threatens Greenpeace protestors with jail and fines: But legal tactics fail as Greenpeace sends second boat and more climbers

Amsterdam, Netherlands – WEBWIRE

 Shell has attempted to silence Greenpeace International’s peaceful occupation of its oil and gas platform at sea, by hitting the campaign group with an injunction late on Friday, February 3, threatening up to two years’ jail time and fines.[1] 

But today, Shell’s heavy-handed legal tactics failed, as Greenpeace International successfully went ahead with plans to escalate its protest by adding two more climbers to occupy the company’s oil and gas platform – using other boats unaffected by the court order. 

Protestors are demanding that the company stops expanding oil and gas production around the world, takes responsibility for fuelling the climate crisis, and pays up for the climate destruction it is causing everywhere. 

At around 9am (CET) in the Channel, the Greenpeace France-chartered Merida trimaran and two small boats approached the White Marlin heavy-lift vessel, which is carrying Shell’s 34,000 tonne oil and gas platform to the North Sea.

Dramatic footage shows an escort vessel staying close to the activists. This boat is owned by Boskalis, the company Shell has contracted to transport the oil platform.

Two Greenpeace International climbers, Pascal Havez from France, and Silja Zimmermann from Germany, used ropes to board the Shell-contracted ship from one of the small boats, owned by Greenpeace International.

They joined four other activists – Carlos Marcelo Bariggi Amara, from Argentina; Yakup Çetinkaya from Turkey; Imogen Michel from the United Kingdom; and Usnea Granger from the United States – who have been occupying the oil and gas platform since Tuesday, January 31.

Three other ally activists – Nonhle Mbuthuma from South Africa; Hussein Ali Ghandour, from Lebanon; and Noa Helffer, from Italy – joined the protest from the Merida, bearing witness and brandishing banners with the message: Stop Drilling. Start Paying. 

It comes after Shell announced record profits of $39.9bn on Thursday, February 2. 

Hussein Ali Ghandour, from Lebanon, speaking on board the Merida, said: “I come from the driest region of the world that is warming twice as fast as the global average. Across the Middle East and North Africa, droughts, raging forest fires, flash floods and other climate disasters are now part of our daily realities, aggravating our social and economic woes.

“It is big polluters like Shell that bear the historic responsibilities for this loss and damage. The climate justice clock is ticking and polluters must stop developing new fossil fuel projects and pay for the decades of devastation they have caused around the world.”

Climber Silja Zimmermann said: “We will not let Shell silence us. The world needs to hear about Shell’s ongoing plans to further heat up the planet, increasing climate devastation without paying a cent towards rebuilding the carnage we’re seeing. 

“And we have bad news for Shell: people everywhere are rising up in resistance, because we no longer accept reliance on fossil fuel companies that are making our lives worse.

“We’re living with increasingly sweltering summers, a lack of rain is destroying forests and affecting farmers and with expensive energy bills it’s getting harder and harder to put food on the table. 

“Whole workforces and entire communities are exposed to the boom and bust of volatile oil and gas markets. And in Germany, floods in 2021 killed 180 people, with reconstruction costs of €30bn. Enough is enough. Shell must stop drilling, and start paying.”

Noa Helffer, from Italy, speaking on board the Merida, said: “We know the climate crisis is hitting hardest in countries that are the least to blame; and in Europe we stand in solidarity. “Growing up in Italy, we saw waist-high flooding sometimes, and conversely there’s been times where it didn’t rain for months, and farmers were left with only dried leaves.

“Shell’s profits are our loss. It’s time to make polluters pay.”

Late Friday evening, Shell delivered a court order granted “ex parte”, meaning Greenpeace was not given advanced notice, nor a chance to offer a defence. This undermines the fairness of the legal process. 

The injunction stipulates:

  • The four activists on board the oil and gas platform must seek to agree a plan with the White Marlin’s captain to safely disembark;
  • The UK-flagged Sea Beaver vessel and the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise and their boats must stay outside a 500-meter exclusion zone around the White Marlin ship.

The Merida and two other small boats were not included in the injunction application. 

The platform which six activists are now occupying is a key piece of oil and gas production equipment that will enable Shell to unlock eight new wells in the Penguins field in the North Sea. Burning all of the oil and gas from the field redevelopment would create 45m tonnes of CO2 – more than the entire annual emissions of Norway.[2] And between 1965 and 2018, Shell has been responsible for ten times the carbon pollution of the Philippines.[3] 

Shell has teased in an investor note that the Penguins redevelopment could also create the possibility of opening up entirely new fossil fuel reserves.[4] 

Today’s action is the latest in a series of peaceful protests targeted at Shell. After the oil and gas platform occupation began last week, another group of Greenpeace activists staged a protest at the company’s London headquarters on Thursday, February 2, on the day of its profits announcement.[5][6] Activists erected a 3-meter-tall mock petrol station price board outside the company’s London HQ, displaying the £32.2bn ($39bn) Shell made in profits in 2022, with a question mark next to the amount it will pay towards climate loss and damage. 

And today, activists in the Philippines have staged a simultaneous protest at Shell’s Bonifacio Global City headquarters.[7] Activists from climate-impacted communities biked from Quezon City to deliver a letter of demands. 



[1] Breaking an injunction can lead to Contempt of Court proceedings in England and Wales. The penalty for contempt of court is up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.

[2] Burning all of the oil and gas from the Penguins field would create 45m tonnes of CO2 – more than the entire annual emissions of Norway 

  • Norway’s annual emissions for 2021 were 40,918,550.00 t, according to Our World in Data
  • Ecuador’s annual emissions for 2021 were 41,321,736.00 t, according to Our World in Data
  • According to Rystad, the Penguins redevelopment contains 79.9 (Oil mBOE) and 209.8 (Gas BCF).
  • Using the multipliers found in the EPA calculator we get the below figures.
  • 79.9 (Oil mBOE)  x 0.42 (EPA Multiplier) = 33,516,000 tonnes CO2e
  • 209.8 (Gas BCF) x 54,740 (EPA Multiplier) = 11,489,926 tonnes CO2e
  • 11,489,926 tonnes CO2e + 33,516,000 tonnes CO2e = 45,005,926 tonnes CO2e

[3] Between 1965 and 2018, Shell has produced ten times the carbon pollution of the Philippines. 

[4] Penguins growth strategy, Upstream, 2018




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