BP rig operator takes Greenpeace to court

| 3rd February 2020
Big oil ramps up efforts to gag climate campaigners as BP’s rig operator Transocean takes on Greenpeace in court.


BP’s rig operator, Transocean, has taken Greenpeace to the Scottish courts as it seeks to press ahead with a legal bid to fine the campaigning group and send its bosses to prison. The next hearing will take place on 24 February. 

The offshore drilling contractor is pursuing Greenpeace in the courts after activists blocked a BP rig from drilling new oil wells in the North Sea for twelve days in June last year and breached an interim interdict. 

Transocean secured a permanent interdict against Greenpeace on 31 December. But today in Edinburgh’s Court of Session the company will press ahead with its pursuit of heavy fines and prison sentences for the environmental group.


John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Big oil are rattled because they know they are responsible for our climate emergency. 

“They want to keep profiting from dirty drilling and they’re doing everything they can to silence us: from getting interdicts to trying to jail us.

“We will not be bullied. We stand ready to protect our planet from climate criminals, and won’t give up until they swap oil and gas for renewable energy that benefits us all.”

Transocean initially launched legal proceedings against Greenpeace in June last year, getting an interim interdict to stop the action. They waited until November to seek fines against Greenpeace and prison sentences for its executive director John Sauven. The drilling company then took out a second, permanent interdict in secret on New Year’s Eve, without notifying Greenpeace.

Not satisfied with the permanent interdict - Transocean is still asking judge Lady Wolffe to dish out hefty fines and jail sentences.

Dirty business

Andrew McParland, one of the activists who climbed the Paul B Loyd Jnr rig, said: “We boarded BP’s rig knowing we faced legal risks, but knowing that the risk to our planet is far greater. The future of our living world is at stake.

“BP and Transocean both took out interdicts against us, and now Transocean is doggedly seeking prison sentences more than six months after we stepped off that rig - which is now doing its dirty business somewhere off the coast of the US. 

“Allowing giants like BP and Transocean to carry on with business as usual is not an option. We won’t give up until BP has ditched fossil fuels and fully switched to renewables.”

Today’s hearing is big oil’s latest attempt to stifle climate campaigners through legal action. In December Shell secured a ban on Greenpeace International targeting its North Sea oil rigs in the Brent field. 

Shell’s lawyers are Pinsent Masons, the same law firm which is representing Transocean in today’s case. 

This Author 

Marianne Brooker is The Ecologist's content editor. This article is based on a press release from Greenpeace. 

Image: Greenpeace campaigner Sarah North holds a banner reading "Climate Emergency" whilst floating in front of BP oil rig on day 11 of the protest in the North Sea.


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