Shell is suing Greenpeace for £1.7million after its protesters occupied an oil rig for 13 days.
The oil giant said it supports the right to peaceful protest but the ‘unlawful and extremely dangerous’ action put the lives of both the protesters and crew at risk.
Six activists boarded the oil platform which was under tow in January near the Canary Islands off the Atlantic coast of northern Africa to protest oil drilling.
They travelled on it for 13 days and nearly 2,500 miles, making it as far as Norway.
They used ropes to hoist themselves onto the vessel from inflatable boats that chased the ship at speed as it travelled to the Penguins oil and gas field in the North Sea, which is not yet in production.
‘Unlawful’: Greenpeace activists onboard the Shell drilling rig near the Canary Islands in the protest
Greenpeace said the lawsuit is an attempt to ‘crush and intimidate’ the group. Shell has filed the claim in the High Court in London.
The damages Shell is seeking include costs related to shipping delays and expenses for extra security, as well as legal costs.
‘The claim is one of the biggest legal threats against the Greenpeace network´s ability to campaign in the organisation´s more than 50-year history,’ Greenpeace said.
The group said Shell offered to reduce its damage claim to £1.1million if Greenpeace’s activists agree not to protest again at any 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 per cent by 2030, which Shell has appealed.
Greenpeace said it will then consider its next steps, including ways to stop the case from proceeding.
SE Asia chief Yeb Sano, who is named in the legal claim, said: ‘Shell is trying to silence legitimate demands: it must stop its senseless & greedy pursuit of fossil fuels and take accountability… I will stand up in court & fight this.’
Shell said: ‘The right to protest is fundamental… But it must be done safely and lawfully. Boarding a 72,000 metric ton moving vessel at sea was unlawful and extremely dangerous.’