Greenland fines Greenpeace for drilling rig stunts

Environmental activists put a "Shell No" banner on the waters in front of Shell's Drilling Rig Polar Pioneer as it leaves Seattle's Elliott Bay bound for Alaska, in this Greenpeace handout photo taken June 15.
Environmental activists put a "Shell No" banner on the waters in front of Shell's Drilling Rig Polar Pioneer as it leaves Seattle's Elliott Bay bound for Alaska, in this Greenpeace handout photo taken June 15. PHOTO: REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (REUTERS) - A Greenland court on Monday fined Greenpeace over US$26,000 ($37,100) for disrupting oil drilling off the island's coast, the latest chapter in the environmental group's fight to stop industrial development in the Arctic.

Greenpeace activists boarded or tried to board an exploration rig belonging to Cairn Energy three times in 2011. The Edinburgh-based company drilled five prospective wells that year but none found commercial quantities of hydrocarbons.

Greenpeace's campaigns in the Arctic have run into trouble with authorities several times in recent years. In April, campaigners boarded a Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig preparing to head to the Arctic.

The activists believe an oil spill would damage the Arctic environment. Oil companies argue they have extremely detailed mitigation plans should anything go wrong on drilling rigs.

Many Greenlanders disapprove of Greenpeace because of its campaigns against seal and whale hunting, two activities key to the economy and cultural traditions of the 56,000-strong nation.

Autonomous within the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland become financially independent if oil were discovered and many Greenlanders support drilling there.