On March 28 Judge Sharon Gleason in the federal District Court in Alaska issued a preliminary injunction banning activist organization Greenpeace from occupying any of a list of 19 vessels that Shell plans to use for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas during this year’s open water season. The list of vessels includes the drillship Noble Discover, the floating drilling platform the Kulluk, anchor handlers, icebreakers and oil spill response vessels, with the ban continuing until Oct. 31and applying while the vessels are in U.S. waters and ports.
In February Shell asked the District Court to issue a restraining order against Greenpeace, which has already protested against the company’s Arctic drilling plans by occupying the Noble Discoverer in New Zealand and by occupying two icebreakers in Finland that had been contracted for Shell’s operations. Gleason responded by issuing a temporary restraining order, banning Greenpeace from trespassing on Shell’s drilling vessels. The injunction issued March 28 supersedes that restraining order.
Among the claims still to be ruled on is a question of District Court jurisdiction over activities in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ, where Shell will be drilling, as distinct from U.S. territorial waters and harbors. Gleason says that the court will rule on this question before Shell’s vessels start to operate in the EEZ. Similarly the court will rule in due course on a question of court jurisdiction over activities at aviation facilities in the northern Alaska town of Barrow, where Shell will presumably base the aviation operations in support of its drilling fleet.