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Shell sues Greenpeace. Oil company demands millions in damages

Shell sues Greenpeace. Oil company demands millions in damages

Image source: © Greenpeace
Marta Grzeszczuk,
10.11.2023 16:15

Environmental nonprofit organisation Greenpeace revealed a legal action brought against it by Shell oil company. Greenpeace claims that the organisation's ability to campaign is at risk.

The UK branch of Greenpeace announced that the organisation had been sued after its activists boarded Shell’s oil production vessel while it was in transit at sea. Greenpeace says the claim will amount to around €8 million. Reuters, however, reported that the NGO is being sued for only €2 million.

Greenpeace sued by Shell for millions of euros

Greenpeace activists boarded the moving oil platform in January 2023 near the Canary Islands off the Atlantic coast of northern Africa. They travelled on it as far as Norway to protest against the climate damage caused by Shell's oil drilling, Euronews reports.

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Four Greenpeace activists used ropes to climb the platform from inflatable boats that pursued the ship at high speed. Later they were joined by another two people and they all occupied the vessel for 13 days in January and February this year. Offshore protests against oil, gas and mining infrastructure have long been part of Greenpeace's operations, Reuters adds.

In an email to Reuters, Shell confirmed that legal proceedings are underway in relation to the incident. The company declined to comment on the amount of the claims. A Shell spokesperson argued that boarding a moving vessel at sea was "unlawful and extremely dangerous".

The right to protest is fundamental and we respect it absolutely. But it must be done safely and lawfully

- commented a Shell spokesperson.

Negotiations between Shell and Greenpeace failed

According to a document Reuters gained access to, the compensation Shell is seeking includes costs related to shipping delays and expenses for additional security, as well as legal costs. Shell and Greenpeace had been negotiating since the case was brought, but talks ended in early November. This information comes from the activists, who added that they are now waiting for Shell to file further documents in court.

The claim is one of the biggest legal threats against the Greenpeace network’s ability to campaign in the organisation’s more than 50-year history

- activists alert.

Greenpeace says Shell has offered to reduce the claim to €1.3 million if activists agree not to protest again at any Shell oil and gas infrastructure offshore or in port. The organisation responded that it would only do so if Shell complied with a Dutch court order from 2021. It concerns a 45% reduction in emissions by 2030, which the company has appealed.

Greenpeace activists' motivation

Among those who tried to board the ship in January was Yeb Saño, Greenpeace's executive director for Southeast Asia. "I have lived through the devastation caused by Shell and companies like them," said Saño, who is named in Shell's lawsuit.

"Ten years ago I spoke at COP global climate talks while my brother was still missing in the fall-out from Super Typhoon Haiyan. Incredibly, he survived, but he helped carry the bodies of 78 innocent people who tragically did not," Saño said.

The activist says he took part in the protest to demand that Shell "stop its senseless and greedy pursuit of fossil fuels and take responsibility for the destruction it is wreaking upon the world." The corporation is one of the 10 global companies responsible for the most greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Source: euronews.com, Reuters

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