Greenpeace attacks Arctic oil shipment

May 02 2014

On Thursday, Greenpeace protestors tried to prevent Sovcomflot’s (SCF) Panamax shuttle tanker ‘Mikhail Ulyanov’ from berthing at Rotterdam with a cargo of Arctic oil.

She had arrived at the Dutch port with 67,000 tonnes of crude oil loaded from an offshore platform in the Pechora Sea - the first cargo loaded from the offshore platform.

In a statement, SCF said that the actions of Greenpeace had compromised a safe operating environment for the ‘Mikhail Ulyanov’, her crew and protesters themselves and exposed the involved parties to the useless and unreasonable risk.

Commenting on the Greenpeace action, Mikhail Suslin – vice president, head of safety department of OAO Sovcomflot - said: “We are extremely disappointed that our vessel has been the subject of an irresponsible publicity stunt by Greenpeace, which occurred despite the measures taken by our ship and the port authorities, including the Coast Guard and the Marine Police.

“‘Mikhail Ulyanov’ is an ultra-modern high ice class shuttle tanker, with a technical specification above most of her peers, including conventional tankers transporting crude from oil fields on the continental shelf of the North Sea. The actions of Greenpeace have caused unnecessary extra stress for the ship’s captain and potentially unsafe operating conditions for the vessel when manoeuvring in the restricted area of the port waters and especially by the Greenpeace actions preventing the safe mooring of the tanker to the oil terminal.

”Over many years Sovcomflot has built a reputation, within the international maritime community, for providing safe and reliable energy transportation for our clients across the globe. We put safety and quality operations at the heart of everything we do,“ he said.

Stanislav Chichin, the vessel’s Master, said: “The actions of Greenpeace cause nothing but profound disappointment. As a Master, I know that the actions of Greenpeace have needlessly distracted our highly professional crew from its normal work in an area of highly intensive shipping traffic.

“The crew of tanker ‘Mikhail Ulyanov’ made its scheduled voyage from the point of loading in the Pechora Sea towards the discharge port of Rotterdam. At the entrance of the port and in the port during the process of mooring operations they were met by Greenpeace vessels. The actions of Greenpeace break the fundamental principles of international conventions for safety at sea, as well as environmental safety.

”My responsibility in manoeuvring in the confined waters of a port is no less dangerous than sailing in the Arctic, especially when another vessel is trying to interfere with a tanker transporting 67,000 tonnes of crude oil in an area of high intensity shipping. During the process of final voyage and during the mooring operations to the terminal of the port, the Greenpeace vessel ‘Rainbow Warrior’ deliberately tried to prevent the safe mooring of the vessel, putting herself between the hull of the tanker and the berth, risking their people and of the port.

”From the seafarers’ point of view the inadequacy of their behaviour in marine waters is unprofessional and can only be explained by the desire to make an impression on the general public without thinking about the consequences,” he said.

Richard Sadler, CEO of Lloyd’s Register Group added: “Sovcomflot’s fleet is routinely surveyed by Lloyd’s Register (LR) and other members of the International Association of Classification Societies. This helps ensure that the fleet carries the necessary high standards of regulatory environmental and safety certification enabling international trading. LR, which certifies the majority of the fleet, additionally certifies Sovcomflot to ISO quality standards including environmental protection and energy management.”

Later on on Thursday, ‘Mikhail Ulyanov’ was safely berthed at the terminal.

Dutch police boarded the ‘Rainbow Warrior’ and arrested more than 30 activists, including the vessel’s Master.

Greenpeace was protesting against the production and shipment of Arctic oil arguing that the Gazprom project to extract oil from the Barents Sea is an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen.

The shipment was the first to be loaded from the Prirazlomnaya platform, owned by Gazprom and the site of a Greenpeace protest last September, which led to the arrest of those involved by the Russian authorities.

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