The Royal Dutch Shell ice management vessel Fennica is on its way to Alaska after a group of activists delayed the ship’s departure Thursday by dangling off a Portland, Oregon bridge.
Thirteen Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John’s Bridge with ropes on Wednesday to prevent the ship from heading back to offshore Alaska after the vessel dry-docked for repairs, according to KPTV.
Police officials began removing the suspended protestors Thursday afternoon and the U.S. Coast Guard removed at least a dozen activists who were patrolling the water in kayaks, The Oregonian said.
The vessel managed to pass under the bridge around 6:00 p.m. Thursday while nine activists holding flags still dangled from the structure.
Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard told KPTV on Wednesday that the group had been planning the event since getting word of the hull damage.
“The window for drilling is closing, because there’s only a certain number of weeks that there’s no ice there, so Shell is really under time pressure to get that boat up there and we’re doing everything we can to delay that,” Leonard said.
A federal judge in Alaska ordered Greenpeace to pay $2,500 in fines for every hour the group continued to delay the vessel’s departure and found the group was violating an injunction barring its members from disrupting Shell’s activities, KTVA Alaska said.
A Shell spokesperson told the news channel that the Polar Pioneer has begun initial drilling operations at the company’s play in the Chukchi Sea.
The Fennica ice management vessel was sent to a dry-dock in Portland for repair after workers discovered a 39 inch long gash in the ship’s ballast tank earlier this month.
Shell said the hole was most likely caused by an uncharted shoal.
Shell’s Arctic plans hit a regulatory snag earlier this month after the Interior Department said the company can not simultaneously drill two wells in offshore Alaska as initially planned.
The company can still drill one well at a time, although it is unclear how the move might affect its drilling plans.