Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lucy Lawless and Other Greenpeace Activists Fined $547.00 for Boarding and Delaying Noble Discoverer

About a year ago, a small band of Greenpeace activists boarded the Shell Oil-leased drilling ship, Noble Discoverer, in New Zealand, to protest drilling off of Alaska's Arctic coast.  Yesterday it was announced that they have been given a paltry fine:
"Xena: Warrior Princess" actor Lucy Lawless says she's won a "great victory" after a New Zealand judge handed her a modest sentence but declined to order costs sought by oil company Shell for her role in a protest aboard an oil-drilling ship.  
Lawless and seven other Greenpeace activists were each ordered Thursday to pay 651 New Zealand dollars ($547) costs to a port company and complete 120 hours of community service after earlier pleading guilty to trespass charges.  
Last February, Lawless and six other activists climbed a drilling tower on the Arctic-bound vessel Noble Discoverer to protest oil exploration in the Arctic. Another protester helped from the ground. Lawless spent four days in February 2012 atop the 174-foot (53-meter) tower, camping and blogging about her experiences. The action briefly delayed the ship's voyage.  
“I’m blocking Shell’s Arctic drillship because I believe passionately that renewable energy is the way of the future,” said Lucy Lawless at the time. “We don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to suck out every last drop of oil. Instead we need to smarten up and begin the transition to a clean, green, sustainable energy future and right now that means keeping Shell out of the Arctic.”
So, Shell lost their battle to have the participants and Greenpeace dealt with punitively.  Tough.

Meanwhile, the Noble Discoverer lies berthed in Seward, Alaska.  It is unclear whether or not it is free to move from its moorings.

Noble Discoverer - February 7, 2013

Back on December 27th, Ben Anderson wrote for the Alaska Dispatch:
According to Petty Officer Kip Wadlow, a spokesman with the Coast Guard in Juneau, the Noble Discoverer was put under what’s known as “port state control detention” on Nov. 29 when the drill ship was towed into Seward, thanks to a problem with its propulsion system. 
Wadlow said that Coast Guard inspectors boarded the ship to determine what went wrong. “While inspectors were on board the ship, they noticed several pretty serious crew safety and pollution-prevention system issues,” he said. 
By Dec. 19, the Noble Discoverer was cleared to leave Seward after the most serious issues were addressed. It won’t, however, travel under its own power to Seattle, where further repairs can take place. A tow vessel will take the ship to port. 
According to Shell Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith, the Noble Discoverer may have damaged to a propeller shaft during its trip from the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians Islands. En route from Dutch Harbor to Seward, Smith said the ship developed a “propeller vibration,” which is when a tug arrived to tow the vessel to port. Coast Guard inspectors noticed the other problems during their inspection. 
“For our part, we have supported Noble (Corporation) in swiftly addressing the items identified in the Coast Guard inspection,” Smith said in an email. “Of the 16 items noted, six have been closed and 10 will be completed in a west coast shipyard in the offseason. Many of these items were already planned for the Discoverer's post-season maintenance schedule.”
Anderson added:
Smith said that the vessel would be further repaired in Washington state during the winter, and the company fully expects the Noble Discoverer to be operational for the 2013 drilling seaason. He noted that the ship had passed all necessary inspections prior to departing for the Arctic. 
Uh, winter is about halfway over. What's the holdup?

Adding to confusion, Naomi Klouda wrote in the Homer Tribune yesterday:
Shell’s Noble Discoverer was moored in Seward to provide support during the grounding of the Kulluk. “That does a wonderful job of keeping restaurants and hotels busy,” [Seward Mayor Ristine] Casagrande said.
Not sure how accurate that is, but .....

Greenpeace activists in New Zealand managed to slow down Shell's Arctic drilling season a couple of days, maybe less, maybe not at all.  But the people running the show for Shell up here seem to have pushed experienced mariners into making bad decisions that have slowed Shell's aspirations far more than Greenpeace could have ever hoped.

Maybe Greenpeace should give Curtis Smith and his colleagues a special award for doing more to thwart offshore drilling in Alaska in 2013 than all the planet's environmental activists put together.

No comments: