Shell turned to court to demand that all Greenpeace protests be banned on and around the four Brent oil platforms in the British part of the North Sea. In mid-October Greenpeace protested on two of the no-longer-in-use platforms, demanding that Shell dismantle and remove the platforms. A court in Scotland will rule on this case on Thursday, NOS reports.
Shell's plans are only to dismantle the upper part of the oil platforms in the Brent oil field, leaving the foundation and the oil tanks in place. But Greenpeace worries that this will cause a environmental disaster, because there are still around 11,000 tons of oil in the storage tanks that will be left behind. Greenpeace wants shell to "clean up its mess". The environmental organization points to the 1992 OSPAR Convention, which states that all offshore oil and gas installations that are no longer in use must be dismantled.
In this case, Shell requested and received exemption from the British government. According to the oil and gas giant, it is better for the marine environment to leave the remains in place and it would be life threatening for divers to clean up everything. The foundations will slowly break down in hundreds of years as the seawater penetrates te concrete and the steel starts to rust, the company claimed. According to Shell, the oil tanks will remain largely upright for at least another thousand years. And if oil leaks out, it will be broken down by natural processes, the company said.
Greenpeace considers it "madness that Shell is trying to curtail the right to protest", Greenpeace Netherlands director Joris Thijssen said to the broadcaster. According to Thijssen, millions of people around the world are taking to the streets demanding that the climate and environment be protected "Now Shell, one of the world's biggest polluters, is trying to take away this fundamental right to protest."
Shell denies that it is trying to silence protesters. "Although we recognize the right to protest peacefully, the safety of our employees on the oil platforms and demonstrators is paramount", the company said. According to Shell, the Greenpeace protests on the oil platforms on October 14th and 15th endangered the safety of the demonstrators and workers on the last still-manned platform in the area.