LONDON, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Shell has sued Greenpeace for $2.1 million in damages after activists from the environmental group boarded the company’s oil production vessel during a transit at sea this year, Greenpeace and a document said. Viewed by Reuters.
The major British oil and gas company filed the lawsuit before the High Court in London. Greenpeace activists boarded the ship in January near the Canary Islands off the Atlantic coast of North Africa in protest against oil exploration and traveled on board as far as Norway.
In an email to Reuters, Shell confirmed legal action when asked if it would sue Greenpeace over the incident but declined to comment on claim amounts.
A Shell spokesman said boarding a moving vessel at sea was “illegal and extremely dangerous”.
“The right to protest is fundamental and we fully respect it,” the spokesman said. “But it must be done safely and legally.”
The ship was headed to the Penguins oil and gas field in the North Sea, which has not yet begun production.
Four Greenpeace activists used ropes to hoist themselves onto the ship from inflatable rafts that chased the ship at high speed.
Protests at sea against oil, gas or mining infrastructure have long been part of Greenpeace’s operations.
The damages Shell is seeking include costs related to shipping delays and additional security expenses, as well as legal costs, according to a document seen by Reuters.
“This allegation is one of the largest legal threats against Greenpeace’s ability to campaign in the organization’s more than 50-year history,” Greenpeace said in a statement.
The group said Shell had offered to reduce its damage claim to $1.4 million if Greenpeace activists agreed not to again protest any of Shell’s oil and gas infrastructure at sea or in port.
Greenpeace said it would only do so if Shell complied with a 2021 Dutch court order to cut its emissions by 45% by 2030, which Shell has appealed.
A claim for additional damages amounting to about $6.5 million by one of Shell’s contractors, Fluor (FLR.N), has not yet been resolved, according to the document seen by Reuters. Fluor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shell and Greenpeace have held negotiations since the case was filed, but the talks ended in early November, Greenpeace said, adding that it was now waiting for Shell to submit more documents to the court.
Greenpeace said it would then consider its next steps, including ways to stop the case from continuing.
(Reporting by Shadia Nasrallah – Prepared by Muhammad for the Arabic Bulletin) Edited by Rod Nickel
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