Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise off the east coast of Greenland

Greenpeace fined by Greenland over 2011 oil rig stunts

Greenpeace has been fined $26,000 (£17,000) for disrupting oil drilling off Greenland's coast by a local court, following a series of stunts back in 2011.

Activists from the environmental group boarded or tried to board an exploration rig belonging to Cairn Energy three times that year as the Edinburgh-based company drilled five prospective wells that in the end didn’t find commercial quantities of hydrocarbons.

Greenpeace opposes drilling for fossil fuels in the Arctic due to the potential damage an oil spill could do to its fragile environment. However, many people in Greenland - an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark - support drilling, as major oil discoveries could make the island financially independent.

Many Greenlanders also disapprove of Greenpeace because of its campaigns against seal and whale hunting, two activities key to the economy and cultural traditions of the 56,000-strong nation.

The NGO's Arctic Sunrise icebreaker is currently shadowing a ship carrying out a seismic survey for a partner project between TGS and Nopec off the coast of Greenland, which Greenpeace says is detrimental to marine life.

The group's campaigns in the Arctic have run into trouble with authorities several times in recent years. In 2013, Russia imprisoned a number of activists who tried to board an offshore oil platform and in April 2015 campaigners boarded a Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig preparing to head to the Arctic.

This news comes at a time when Greenpeace is actively campaigning against Shell's plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.

It also coincides with the public apology this week by ex-French intelligence agent Jean-Luc Kister for his role in the bombing and sinking of a Greenpeace boat, the Rainbow Warrior, in 1985. The state-sponsored act of sabotage - authorised by the French government - resulted in the death of Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira, who drowned onboard the boat when Kister detonated the limpet mines he had attached as a diver to the ship's hull.

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