Russia’s Northern Sea Route Administration has denied the environmental group’s vessel Arctic Sunrise right of passage into the ice-riddled water way, citing safety fears.
However, Greenpeace has cried foul saying it had “all necessary requirements” to navigate the passage and that is vessel had a higher ice-class specification than many vessels currently working in the Arctic for Russian oil giant Rosneft.
“None of the six oil exploration vessels operating for Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the area has an ice classification as high as the Arctic Sunrise,” Greenpeace said.
“More than 400 vessels have been granted access to the Northern Sea Route this year, many of them with an inferior classification to that of the Arctic Sunrise, which is classed as an icebreaker.
“This is a thinly-veiled attempt to stifle peaceful protest and keep international attention away from Arctic oil exploration in Russia,” Greenpeace continued.
“The decision was made in violation of international law and the right of free navigation.
“It once again confirms the relationship between Russian authorities and the oil companies. Millions of people around the world want to know what the Russian companies and their Western partners are trying to hide in the Arctic.”
Greenpeace has asked the Administration “to reconsider the unjustified decision”.
“Greenpeace International entered three detailed applications for entry to the Northern Sea Route Administration, clearly stating its intentions to engage in peaceful and lawful protest,” it said.
All applications were rejected. The latest application was refused on the grounds that the information provided on the ice strengthening was apparently insufficient.
“From the pattern of refusals it is clear that the NSR administration has never been interested in granting Greenpeace access.”
In June Rosneft wrapped up joint-venture pacts with heavyweights ExxonMobil, Statoil and Eni covering exploitation of resources in the country’s Arctic region, as well as other areas.
Tuapsemorneftegaz and Karmorneftegaz, joint ventures between Rosneft and US supermajor ExxonMobil, will act as respective operators of the pair’s proposed projects in the Black and Kara seas.
ExxonMobil is set to finance most of the initial $3.2 billion exploration costs in the two areas, where drilling is expected to start next year, under its strategic co-operation deal with Rosneft, with the partners holding stakes of 33.33% and 66.67% respectively.
ExxonMobil’s huge joint venture agreement with Rosneft came about after a previous deal between the state-owned Russian and UK supermajor BP for exploration in the Kara Sea fell through.