Greenpeace has been banned from intercepting a deep sea oil-drilling ship after the protest group sent "wave after wave" of swimmers into the north Atlantic to stop the vessel from reaching its drilling site.
The US oil giant Chevron was granted a wide-ranging interdict, or injunction, by judges in Edinburgh today, ordering Greenpeace to stop any further direct action preventing the Stena Carron from reaching its destination or impeding its "lawful business".
Chevron said the interdict would be served on Greenpeace at its headquarters in London and on the Esperanza protest ship near the Lagavulin oilfield, north of Shetland.
It is the second time Chevron, which owns about 1,100 Texaco filling stations in the UK, has been forced to go to court against Greenpeace in the last five days.
Last Friday, the company won an interdict ordering Greenpeace to take down a "survival pod" which the group had attached to an anchor chain on Tuesday, preventing the Stena Carron from departing from Shetland for the oilfield.
But as the drilling ship set off at the weekend, Greenpeace sidestepped the first interdict – which had dealt only with the survival pod – by changing its tactics.
After tracking the vessel north, it sent a series of activists wearing deepwater survival suits into the Atlantic. They then swam in front of the vessel, forcing it to stop short of its destination.
The protesters, based on the Esperanza, were in the water on four-hour long shifts before getting eight hours rest and then taking to the water again.
One of the activists involved, who asked not to be named, said earlier this week: "It's tiring, and it's hurting."
Chevron accused Greenpeace of endangering the activists' safety. "While we acknowledge and respect the right of Greenpeace to express its views by peaceful and lawful action, we deplore the recklessness of their actions so far and urge Greenpeace to respect the interdict granted by the court and cease these activities immediately," it said.
Greenpeace said it could not comment until it had seen the interdict, but confirmed it had effectively been banned from any further protests against the Stena Carron.
Last month, it sent the Esperanza to the Arctic to protest against a test drilling operation run by the UK oil exploration firm Cairn Energy, which was searching for oil and gas off the west coast of Greenland.
Then four Greenpeace climbers scaled a Cairn Energy drilling platform and suspended platforms underneath.
They were forced to abandon the protest by severe weather two days later and were arrested, fined about £1,900 each and deported.
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