The Transocean Ltd.’s ultradeepwater semisubmersible Spitsbergen drilling rig, which has been contracted by Statoil ASA for drilling in the Barents Sea, was boarded May 26 by members of the environmental activist group Greenpeace. The group is protesting the onset of drilling tied to the Apollo prospect in the Hoop area where the rig was heading, Statoil said. The rig is now about 190 miles offshore with protesters and crew members engaged in dialogue. The goals of the protesters are unclear at this time.
Statoil plans to drill three wells in the Hoop area this summer on the Apollo, Atlantis, and Mercury prospects. The company received approval from the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment to begin drilling operations. However, it cannot drill into oil-bearing layers until a complaint filed by Greenpeace is heard by the Ministry.