Greenpeace hijacks barge in protest at Arctic oil drilling

Greenpeace activists hijacked a giant BP barge off the coast of Alaska yesterday to protest against drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

Greenpeace activists hijacked a giant BP barge off the coast of Alaska yesterday to protest against drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

Six activists, four of them Britons, with a photographer and a video camera operator, leapt aboard the 420ft vessel at about 8am UK time as it was being towed by tugs to a construction site at Seal Island, an artificial gravel island in theBeaufort Sea off north Alaska.

The crewless barge, being towed by tugs and carrying mobile accommodation modules and other equipment destined for the Northstar oil project, was turned around and was heading back to Barrow on the Alaskan mainland.

Stephanie Tunmore, 45, of north London, speaking on a satellite phone from the barge, said: "Our original aim was to turn this barge around. They have done that. BP, who claim to be on the side of the climate, are actually doing everything they can to perpetuate climate change."

The other Britons with her are Dan Broadley and Stan Vincent, both of Somerset, and Kevin Benn, of Gloucestershire. Two American members of Greenpeace were also on board.

Ms Tunmore said: "We followed the barge with three inflatables for an hour across the ocean and then climbed aboard using its ladders.

"We established a campaign and communications centre with our satellite phone and laptop and have put up a banner saying 'Stop BP's Northstar'.

"It's very, very cold. I'm looking out of the window and I can see massive ice flows. We're all wearing survival suits and lots of layers."

She said they would stay on the barge for as long as they could, and had supplies for a protracted occupation.

Greenpeace says that the drilling project will contribute to Arctic melting.

Northstar, BP's newest oilfield, is the first to be developed in the area. A spokeswoman for BP said: "More than 15 permitting agencies were involved at the local, state and federal level."

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