Lawless, Greenpeace activists sentenced

Last updated 13:59 07/02/2013

Seven Greenpeace activists, including actress Lucy Lawless, sentenced to community work and fined.

Lawless boards Shell oil-drilling ship

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Actor Lucy Lawless says she is proud of her efforts to stop Shell drilling for oil in the Arctic, after her actions resulted in a sentence of community work and an order to pay some reparations.

Lawless, along with six other Greenpeace activists, was sentenced today after pleading guilty to illegally boarding an oil drillship in Taranaki.

In New Plymouth District Court, Judge Allan Roberts sentenced the activists to 120 hours community work and ordered them to pay Port Taranaki $651.44 each.

The activists managed to avoid having to pay $600,000 in reparations to Shell Todd.

Judge Roberts said it was unfair to order further reparation to the company, which could take its claim to the civil courts.

The group was charged after illegally boarding the drill ship Noble Discoverer in February 2012, delaying its departure from Port Taranaki in New Plymouth.

The group breached port security, scaling the ship's drilling rig and remained camped there for more than 70 hours to protest against Shell's intention to drill for oil in Arctic waters.

Lawless appeared under her real name Lucy Tapert.

"We are proud to have taken part in our attempt to stop Shell's reckless plans to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic," she said outside the court.

"Since we occupied the Noble Discoverer, it has become evident to everyone watching, from the millions who have signed Greenpeace petitions, to the US Government, now examining Shell's plans, that it can never be safe to drill in the Arctic.

"Shell's Arctic programme has cost them billions and it's now regarded as an eye-wateringly expensive failure," she said.

"Let's embrace clean energy; we're going to have to anyway, so why not do it before they cause a major oil spill in the Arctic, and consign our grandchildren to an uncertain and dangerous world?"

A month ago US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered a 60-day assessment of Shell's drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, off Alaska, and said potential damage to the company's Kulluk rig after it ran aground in a storm may force further delays in Arctic exploration.

"There is a troubling sense I have that so many things went wrong," he said.
Shell may not be ready to move forward in the Arctic in 2013, because of assessments taking place of the Kulluk, Salazar said.

But he also said the US was "fully committed to exploring for potential energy resources in frontier areas such as the Arctic", while adding that the challenges posed by the Arctic environment demanded an even higher level of scrutiny.

In the past few days Greenpeace has hit out at a proposed treaty dealing with blowouts and oil spills in the Arctic.

A leaked draft proposal from the eight-nation Arctic Council was "so vaguely written as to have very little practical value in increasing the level of preparedness", the organisation said.

On its website, Shell said developing the Arctic could be essential to securing energy supplies for the future.

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The area was estimated to hold around 30 per cent of the world's undiscovered gas and 13 per cent of the yet-to-be-found oil, amounting to around 400 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

The New York Times reported that some energy specialists were raising the possibility of a US drilling moratorium in the Arctic.

Given surging US oil and gas production, the administration was thought to have time to go slowly in the Arctic.

- Taranaki Daily News

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