Blog from the fog

Posted by lisavickers — 27 August 2010 at 11:28pm - Comments

Last night around 1pm, my whole cabin was suddenly flooded with light and it was not the Aurora Borealis this time. It was the coastguard of Greenland, onboard 'Sisak 2'. They have been following us like a shadow, along with 'Sisak 4' and the Danish warship, since our arrival at Cairn Energy's drill sites. This time they had approached closely from port side with their bright spotlight directly pointing at us.

It is still summer in Greenland and when our ice captain came onboard in Nuuk (probably the smallest capital of the world)  there were even some local hardcores swimming  in the bay but today the temperature dropped down to 5 degrees and the humidity is very high. You don't need a PhD in geology to figure out that drilling operations in Arctic conditions are extremely dangerous. One look out of the Esperanza porthole is enough. We are surrounded by a thick fog most of the time and most of the icebergs passing by can only be spotted on the radar.

On the way up north we passed Cape Farewell, Meta Incognita Peninsula and Whalefish island. We are in the middle of a beautiful pristine environment hosting one oil rig, one drilling ship, two police boats, one warship, supply vessels and tugboats for dragging ice bergs out of the way. Even if Cairn Energy has a response fleet somewhere in case of an emergency situation, these few ships are never going to be able to be here in time to win the race against the Arctic winter. It is going to be extremely hard to clear up an oil spill here.

But this doesn't seem to disturb the Greenland government. They are negotiating more drilling permits with other oil companies. And instead they seem concerned about the presence of a blue Greenpeace ship with a multinational crew that’s here pointing out the safety risks of drilling. For this reason we are permanently tagged by the police and the big grey silent rock - the Danish warship that is impossible to ignore unless the mist hasn't swallowed it up again.

Yesterday some of us did boat training – a familiar exercise I’ve done many times, but not always with such an audience. Our new dry suits proved to be worthy of the name and we enjoyed getting off the Esperanza to get in some driving practice and have a salt water shower. All our activities in the water and on deck are observed by our shadows, and the absurdity peaked yesterday when our rust chipping work at the bow was monitored from a helicopter circling above us.


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