Activists, actor Lucy Lawless arrested for Shell Arctic drillship occupation

 Auckland, February 27th 2012 -- The occupation of an Arctic-bound Shell drillship by six Greenpeace activists including actor Lucy Lawless ended this morning after police climbed the ship's drilling tower and arrested the group. The protest was into its fourth day and the activists had spent 77 hours on top of the 53 metre drilling tower.

"This chapter has ended, but the story of the battle to save the Arctic has just begun," said Lucy Lawless, before being arrested. "Seven of us climbed up that drillship to stop Arctic drilling, but 133,000 of us came down."

She continued, "We will continue to stand in solidarity with the communities and species that depend on the Arctic for their very lives until Shell cancels its plans to drill in this magical world, and makes the switch to clean, sustainable energy."

The activists entered the Port of Taranaki at 6:30 a.m. on February 24th, scaled the drilling tower of the Shell drillship the Noble Discoverer and set up camp. The ship was preparing to leave for the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska where it is scheduled to drill three exploratory oil wells this summer.

"In these four days we have shone a global spotlight on Shell's reckless plans to destroy the precious wild Arctic for just a few years of oil," said Viv Hadlow, one of the drillship activists.

She continued, "It's insane that oil companies like Shell regard the melting of the Arctic sea ice not as a warning to humanity, but as a chance to drill for more of the oil that caused the problem in the first place. Today this occupation ended, but like the hundreds of thousands of people who have joined our cry to save the Arctic, we will not be silenced."

Over the course of the four day occupation, more than 130,000 people sent an email to Shell executives telling them to cancel their plans to drill in the Arctic, causing Shell email systems to overload repeatedly. Thousands of people around the world also sent messages of support to Lucy and the activists via social media and the hashtag #SaveTheArctic, which featured on banners hung from the drillship, has trended on and off around the world over the past 4 days. Celebrities like Jared Leto and the official Beatles twitter account also posted messages to their followers.

"I can't wait to get home to my kids to tell them all about this amazing journey, but I'm so glad I took part in this peaceful action," said Lucy Lawless.

She continued, "I am in awe of the multitudes of people who have sent us so many inspiring messages of support, not to mention my fellow activists who put their personal liberties on the line to stand up to Shell's mad plans to drill in the Arctic.

"We did what we came to do. Together we sent a clear message that has been heard and echoed across the globe: there's no place in this world for your reckless Arctic oil."

Shell is the first major international oil company to make exploitation of the Arctic a major focus. If the Noble Discoverer strikes oil this summer, other global oil giants will quickly follow and spark an Arctic oil rush. The company has a very tight window in which to drill for oil. Freezing temperatures, extreme weather conditions and a highly remote location pose unprecedented challenges, and make an Arctic oil spill virtually impossible to contain and clean up. (1) According to a senior official at a Canadian firm that specialises in oil-spill response, "there is really no solution or method today that we're aware of that can actually recover [spilled] oil from the Arctic." (2)

Total estimated Arctic oil reserves would satisfy just three years of current global oil demand, but would both contribute significantly to carbon emissions and pose a grave risk to the local ecosystem. (3) Numerous reports show that through energy efficiency and clean energy, global energy needs can be met while leaving the Arctic untouched. (4)