Greenpeace activists climbed aboard an oil rig off Istanbul on Friday, in a bid to prevent it from leaving for Greenland to begin deep-water drilling in the Arctic, the environmental group said.
Eleven activists in rock-climbing gear used speedboats to intercept and then climb atop the Leiv Eiriksson after it had left a port in Istanbul. They climbed the rig's derrick, unfurling a banner that read: "Stop Arctic destruction" and "Go Beyond Oil, Choose Clean Energy," the group said.
The huge platform, bound for Greenland's Baffin Bay, did not stop and was continuing on its course, heading toward the Dardanelles strait with the activists on board,
Deniz Dozudogru, a Greenpeace spokeswoman for the Mediterranean region, told the Associated Press. There were no Turkish coast guard boats trailing the oil rig, she said. The Dardanelles connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean sea.
The activists _ from Britain, Denmark, Canada, Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Sweden and Turkey _ were prepared to occupy the rig for days, according to the group.
It said the oil rig, operated by Scottish company Cairn Energy PLC, has "a very short window in which to drill their four new exploratory wells" due to extreme weather conditions in the Arctic.
There was no immediate response from Cairn Energy.
The organization wants Cairn to suspend deep-water drilling after the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Freezing temperatures, severe weather and a highly remote location pose unprecedented challenges to any oil spill response in the Arctic and mean a spill could be impossible to contain and clean up," Greenpeace said in a statement.
Leiv Eiriksson, one of the world's largest rigs, had been exploring possible oil and gas in the Black Sea under a joint venture between Turkey and Brazil's Petrobas.