Greenpeace Esperanza anchors off West Seattle as organization hit with Shell restraining order

(Wednesday photo by Don Brubeck)
Since the Greenpeace Esperanza appeared off Duwamish Head yesterday, we’ve been trying to find out exactly what it’s here for, but in e-mail exchanges with WSB’ers, we speculated that it might be related to the expected-soon departure of two Shell drillships/rigs from Vigor on Harbor Island, off to drill in the Arctic. Here’s new evidence that’s likely what’s up. While Greenpeace has yet to answer our inquiry, the maritime-news service gCaptain reports that it’s just been hit with a restraining order by Shell, ordering Greenpeace to stay away from the company’s rigs. They are the Noble Discoverer, which arrived here in April (WSB coverage here), and the Kulluk, which has been at Vigor since last July. A Shell spokesperson told WSB in April that both rigs would likely leave here “sometime in June.”

4 PM UPDATE: Greenpeace has responded to our inquiry with its news release about the ship’s arrival in Seattle, mentioning that it’s anchored “just outside the federally mandated … exclusion zone” – read on:

– The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has arrived in Seattle to prepare for a summer tour which will expose Shell’s attempts to begin destructive drilling in the pristine Arctic Ocean.

The oil company has pursued a series of aggressive lawsuits against Greenpeace and other environmental groups in an effort to curtail peaceful protest. The Esperanza is in the Puget Sound, just outside the federally mandated 1km ‘exclusion zone’ surrounding Shell’s drilling vessels.

“The Arctic is facing the greatest threat in its history” Greenpeace Deputy Campaigns Director Dan Howells said. “It’s warming faster than anywhere else on earth, but oil companies are rushing in to squeeze out a few more barrels of the oil that is causing this problem in the first place.

“Let’s be crystal clear, this will do absolutely nothing to lower gas prices but everything to make one of the world’s richest companies a few billion richer. America needs smarter engines and powerful electric technology, not a creaky old rig drilling for oil in our last great wilderness.”

Greenpeace is launching its “Save the Arctic” ship tour just as a new Alaskan oil rush begins. The Esperanza will sail along the Pacific Coast, shadowing Shell’s drilling vessels, the Noble Discoverer drillship (built in 1966) and Kulluk platform (1983), as they enter one of America’s most fragile and unknown ecosystems.

The Esperanza will arrive at the drill sites with scientists and activists on board to deploy state-of-the-art submarines, which will be the first to research the remote and little understood ocean floor of the Arctic seas.

Shell is the first company to rush into the Arctic this year, but several other international oil companies are lining up to follow in the energy giant’s wake. The company plans to drill wells in the remote Beaufort and Chukchi seas, places where polar bears, narwhals and walruses have lived without interference for thousands of years. Melting sea ice is already threatening these animals, and the arrival of heavy industrial equipment could have very serious consequences for their survival.

The threat of climate change is, of course, even more serious for Arctic wildlife.

“If companies like Shell continue on this path we’re likely to face global warming that will change the Arctic and the world we live in forever,” Greenpeace senior oceans campaigner Jackie Dragon said. “Polar bears are already dying, too weak to swim the vast distances opened up by the retreating ice, and elsewhere in the world people are suffering from floods, droughts and sudden changes in weather. These are problems climate scientists tell us will get worse as climate change continues, and they are already costing the American economy billions of dollars each year.

“It’s time to draw a line in the ice and say: enough.”

The Esperanza will leave Seattle in early June to begin its journey up to the Arctic.

67 Replies to "Greenpeace Esperanza anchors off West Seattle as organization hit with Shell restraining order"

  • smokeycretin9 May 31, 2012 (11:48 am)

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, BUT we as a planet will still need oil EVEN if we all are driving electric cars. We need petrolium products for such thigs as Carpets, paint,Tires, iPhone cases.

    Plastic is made from oil.

  • RobJ May 31, 2012 (11:52 am)


  • chris May 31, 2012 (12:10 pm)

    isnt oil natural ?

  • West Seattle Codger May 31, 2012 (12:17 pm)

    I notice from the photo that the Greenpeace ship is not a sailing vessel but probably uses oil in some form. Maybe it’s bio_diesel? I’d be interested to know.

  • G May 31, 2012 (12:21 pm)

    Greenpeace, by their aggressive actions in the past, is will now barred by court order from monitoring the drilling in the Arctic.

    Way to go, Greenpeace.

  • JD May 31, 2012 (12:39 pm)

    Sounds like a publicity stunt more than anything. Maybe they are picking up some occupiers for the next great crusade, we can only hope.

  • skeeter May 31, 2012 (12:41 pm)

    I assure you the Greenpeace ship does not run on biodiesel. Biodiesel is very, very expensive, has a very limited distribution network, and the engine would require an exceptionally expensive conversion.

    99.9% chance the Greenpeace ship runs on bunker fuel or traditional diesel fuel. Both crude oil products, of course. Oh, the irony.

  • Jim May 31, 2012 (12:43 pm)

    I wouldn’t say they’re losers but based on the amount of gas that ship burns I’d say it’s safe to call them hypocrites.

  • rich May 31, 2012 (12:53 pm)

    Yeah! leave big oil alone and let them continue their good work unbothered by observation, regulations and responsibilities! Oil is natural, just ask the gulf coast.

  • Nick May 31, 2012 (12:54 pm)

    They’re going to try and board the ships before they leave.

  • skeeter May 31, 2012 (12:56 pm)

    Oh heck I just looked it up. It runs on traditional diesel.

  • Aman May 31, 2012 (1:01 pm)

    Chug-A-Lug, Chug-A-Lug…

  • Give A Hoot May 31, 2012 (1:12 pm)

    Even though greenpeace is the peta of the environmental industry and to be disregarded as equally, the smug selfishness displayed by many commenters on this blog is a far more shameful display.

  • bridge to somewhere May 31, 2012 (1:13 pm)

    Definitely see a little hippcracy in Greenpeace running a diesel-propelled boat while protesting Shell. Then again, despite our current and future dependence on oil, isn’t it right that someone is challenging the oil producers to do a safer, more environmentally-responsible job? Didn’t the Deepwater Horizon, Exxon Valdez, and Ixtoc oil spills teach us that the oil suppliers need to do a better job? I don’t think you have to be completely anti-oil to demand oil companies do a better job of protecting our environment.

  • Z May 31, 2012 (1:21 pm)

    Green Piece!

  • bsmomma May 31, 2012 (1:38 pm)

    This made me laugh a little. :) Makes about as much sense as the guy holding a Starbucks cup, recording the protest with his I-Pad wearing his Nike’s and shouting something about the 99%…………

  • Joe May 31, 2012 (1:40 pm)

    bridge to somewhere, stop making so much sense. It’s annoying. Besides, it gets in the way of our self-righteous grousing.

  • george May 31, 2012 (1:43 pm)

    Lets bring in Sea Shepards and let them have a nose-to-nose with Paul Watson…THAT would be entertaining.

  • RobertSeattle May 31, 2012 (1:45 pm)

    And all this time I thought they had struck oil under Harbor Island. :-/

  • hmmm May 31, 2012 (1:46 pm)

    The whole point is to open awareness. Greenpeace does that. Did you allready forget what happened in the Gulf?

  • Time to Think May 31, 2012 (1:54 pm)

    Its easy to forget what happened in the gulf when you’ve been brainwashed to think you need a car to get around and for everything you own to be produced at the lowest bottom line (plastics). The morbid laziness and need for a slave caste on the other side of the world that afflicts the majority of you is the real problem here.

  • WS May 31, 2012 (2:24 pm)

    I’m surprised to read the above posts from West Seattleites. Frankly, I’d expected more. I’m sure the obvious arguments for Greenpeace will likely be lost to the majority above. Here’s a thought that may make sense for you. Consider what would happen to our property values should some oil related accident occur in the Pacific N.W. We are the stewards of the Puget Sound, and these guys are carrying our torch for us.

    How can we as a community continue to mistake oil companies? They are for profit. That is their only interest in you.

    Plastics like polymers are being manufactured without petroleum base. Perhaps with the use of some science, things such as Carpets, paint, tires, iPhone cases will be as well.

    I can see questioning their methods, however questioning their message?

  • B-squared May 31, 2012 (2:30 pm)

    Spot on, Time to Think!

  • YarnCore May 31, 2012 (2:32 pm)

    You guys, calling Greenpeace hypocrites, what are you doing to help things? Please, enlighten me. (it’s people like you that make me WISH I never read the comments section)
    Bridge to somewhere is right, nothing wrong with demanding regulations and environmental responsibility. They may use oil on that ship, but they are out there, doing something, trying to make a difference. Or should big oil companies just be allowed to do whatever they want?

  • Mark May 31, 2012 (2:47 pm)

    I remember seeing a Greenpeace ship come into the Port of Anchorage belching the dirtiest and darkest black smoke from its stacks. . .

    Shell has already had a huge positive impact on our local Seattle economy. Seattle has been such a beneficiary of Alaska oil and mineral development.

    • WSB May 31, 2012 (3:19 pm)

      For anyone who really does care about the ship’s environmental friendliness, you could avail yourself of plenty of info by following the link embedded in its name, to its home page. Including an explanation that it was retrofitted in “as environmentally friendly way as possible and these improvements include: the removal or safe containment of all asbestos; fitting a special fuel system to avoid spillage; newly fitted, more efficient, diesel electric propulsion; on board recycling of waste water, leaving only clean water pumped overboard; a waste based heating system; bilge water purifiers,15 times more effective than current legislation demands; TBT-free hull paint; ammonia based refrigeration and air-conditioning rather than climate changing and ozone depleting Freon gas – the first Dutch registered vessel to be so fitted; and an environmentally and economically efficient propulsion system to reduce CO2 emissions.” – TR

  • boy May 31, 2012 (2:55 pm)

    It is funny to hear the anti oil crowd. If this country was able to go after its own oil Dubai would be turn back into a tent city. As a mater of fact the state of Colorado has more oil then Kawait. People seem to think we still drill with 1950s methods. We would be able to bring our troops home. When I see rich dubai or other rich arab oil countries I see our money making it happen. We need to rely on our counrty first. Oil combined with new energy sources we can start to make a slow but positive change away from using to much fosil fuels. But as someone said above we still need oil for alot more then just gas. But as time moves foward this will surely change to.

  • datamuse May 31, 2012 (3:00 pm)

    So, bsmomma, are you saying that a protest is only valid if the protester brought his own coffee, and recorded the protest with a used videocamera while wearing off-brand sneakers?
    Because I’m really not seeing the logic there.

  • cr May 31, 2012 (3:09 pm)

    I can guarantee you that driving my car leaves less of a carbon footprint than that hippy boat.

  • george May 31, 2012 (3:20 pm)

    Lets not forget, we are now exporting more oil than we import.

  • cr May 31, 2012 (3:28 pm)

    Ok, on a serious note, what do these guys really do? So they board the boat, that does what, get a few arrested and then the Shell boats sail to where they were going anyways? Is driving this big boat around harassing oil workers who just want to make a living really the way to go? That’s it, you’re really showing those big bad oil barons.

  • Time to Think May 31, 2012 (3:30 pm)

    How can someone who sits in traffic every day possibly think their car is the only one on the road?

  • TW May 31, 2012 (3:38 pm)

    I’m sorry, it’s not running on just tradition bunker fuel. Give Greenpeace some credit at least for trying to walk the walk. From their website:

    It has taken many months to refit the ship in as environmentally friendly way as possible and these improvements include: the removal or safe containment of all asbestos; fitting a special fuel system to avoid spillage; newly fitted, more efficient, diesel electric propulsion; on board recycling of waste water, leaving only clean water pumped overboard; a waste based heating system; bilge water purifiers,15 times more effective than current legislation demands; TBT-free hull paint; ammonia based refrigeration and air-conditioning rather than climate changing and ozone depleting Freon gas – the first Dutch registered vessel to be so fitted; and an environmentally and economically efficient propulsion system to reduce CO2 emissions.

  • dale May 31, 2012 (3:44 pm)

    Good call WSB, current coast guard bilge water discharge limitations are 15 PPM (parts per million). Most ship diesel engines burn sour diesel (2000 ppm) which are some of the biggest atmospheric polluters around. Given the 200,000 ships traversing the seas I applaud Shell for being at the forefront of change.

    • WSB May 31, 2012 (3:58 pm)

      Dale – I don’t know about Shell’s specs, but those are the Greenpeace specs. Note – We finally received a news release from Greenpeace, which I will add to the story (after a jump, for those who read from the front page). – TR

  • M May 31, 2012 (3:56 pm)

    Perhaps they can recruit some of the Occupy Seattle nuts as crew and sail away with them?
    If they really wanted a zero carbon powerplant perhaps they should have gone with nuclear…

  • JAT May 31, 2012 (4:10 pm)

    For those who question the validity of Greenpeace’s efforts I’d say, by way of analogy, they do the same thing the TSA agent scanning your shoes does or the same thing the Blue Angels do: they provide consciousness raising theater which is designed to influence everyone’s thinking and attitudes.


    It doesn’t look like all three entities are equally effective at getting their subtle message across.

  • Jim May 31, 2012 (4:14 pm)

    The point about hypocrisy doesn’t have as much to do with the boat as it does with the fact that demand drives the exploration for more oil. The fact that Greenpeace needs that boat illustrates the complexity of the problem. If the problem is the rate at which we burn fossil fuels then “They” (meaning oil companies) are not the problem – the “99%” are. Stop the demand for gas, watch the problem get solved.

  • dale May 31, 2012 (4:36 pm)

    I stand corrected. I do recall that the Shell ship was being upgraded so that their emissions were not as harsh. I assumed u were referring to the Shell drilling ship which had been here since last summer. Maybe one day Puget Sound ports will require all ships bilge water be pumped off ships for cleaning/sterilization instead of being introduced to our inland waters. I suspect recent salmon virus outbreaks could have been caused by this.

  • William May 31, 2012 (5:31 pm)

    I think they were a little late to shanghai some peoples at Folklife Fest! Oh wait wasn’t Shell a sponsor ?

  • waterworld May 31, 2012 (5:46 pm)

    One of the more important functions served by Greenpeace (and other non-profits doing similar work) is monitoring the drilling activities by taking photos, capturing video, testing air and water samples, watching for incidents involving protected marine mammals. There is a long history of oil companies engaging in illegal environmental practices and trying to cover it up — including, for instance, cases involving intentional dumping of waste oil, oily bilge, and contaminated drilling fluids; exceeding the number of permitted killings of protected animal species; and violating permit requirements related to air and water pollution.

    The mere presence of Greenpeace and local, grassroots environmental organizations helps deter oil companies from intentionally violating environmental rules, and it may encourage companies to be careful to avoid even unintentional spills. Even if Shell Oil doesn’t violate its permit requirements or the law, groups like Greenpeace help educate people about the amount of damage that accompanies drilling for oil and transporting it. These are harms to the environment that affect us all, and no one, not even Shell Oil, should be able to operate up in the Arctic wilderness without independent, outside monitors.

  • JayDee May 31, 2012 (6:13 pm)

    What’s funny is that if Greenpeace didn’t exist, there would be less incentive for the Shells of this world to obey regulations, because the middle of the road environmentalists would be considered the fringe and unfettered capitalism would do even less to compensate for their impacts to the planet (albeit due to our addiction to their “junk”). Go Greenpeace.

  • G May 31, 2012 (6:26 pm)

    The fact is, alternative energy can only produce a fraction of the energy we need. Even Denmark, heralded as one of the most environmentally friendly countries, gets much of of it’s power from coal burning plants and comparatively little from wind and other sources. This is a dirty little secret you never hear about.

    Fine, let’s monitor oil companies for egregious violations, but we’ll continue to need oil for a long, long time. Nothing is free, not even environmentally friendly energy sources.

  • Sam May 31, 2012 (6:33 pm)

    Thank God for HEROS like Greenpeace!

    How many of you would actually cause the extinction of species to get cheaper gas? Who has the huevos to act like they are responsible to the entire planet not just themselves? Who has the huevos to act like they care about the future?

    Respect to those who fight for a better world for all of us!

  • Aman May 31, 2012 (7:36 pm)

    Oil Usage Stats link below…

  • cj May 31, 2012 (7:40 pm)

    Its not really a matter of us needing oil or not anymore, its about a choice, your now or your several generations down the road’s future. Sure we need oil but the influence of big oil has prevented us from developing better ways enough to get out from under oil. Also, its Alaska, our last least unspoiled part of America, and we are pretty much just giving it away to be trashed. I hope they will at least be able to take pictures from a distance. And many of these remarks just make me sick, I would expect this from Arkansas but not Seattle … sheesh.

  • Nick May 31, 2012 (7:58 pm)

    No joke idiot comments run rampant do pro oil people love oil companies who lobby for no regulation and buy up clean tech patents so we get stuck using oil

  • move past oil May 31, 2012 (8:29 pm)

    The vehement oil-loving comments in this thread are reason enough to stage a protest. There are plenty of alternatives out there for energy creation and most of the cheap disposable things that we use petroleum to create.
    Go Rainbow Warrior!

  • charlabob May 31, 2012 (8:47 pm)

    I’m a little surprised that calling names (idiot is a name…right?) is allowed.

  • thistle stair May 31, 2012 (8:57 pm)

    Not one comment about the gulf oil spill,the company death squads in Nigeria, the Exxon Valdez,or the cannibal capitalists running the most profitable corporations on the Earth by raping you at the gas pump. I’m not against oil, I’m against injustice,waste and greed.

  • WS May 31, 2012 (10:20 pm)

    Wow, George is right, we are oil exporters. Yet we have record high pump prices.

    I guess producing more wont drive the cost down?

  • M June 1, 2012 (8:15 am)

    I agree Charlabob about the name calling. But reading Nick’s entire statement I think it warrants a “I know you are but what am I” response

  • Kayleigh June 1, 2012 (8:23 am)

    Yes, because Greenpeace makes the most environmentally friendly use of the available technology it can, but because that technology (diesel) is not perfect, EVERYTHING GREENPEACE DOES IS BULLPUCKEY AND OIL IS AWESOME.

    Really incisive and thoughtful reasoning, that.

  • Bill at Duwamish Head June 1, 2012 (8:47 am)

    The ship is sailing away now.

  • datamuse June 1, 2012 (9:31 am)

    WS: presumably that’s what’s meant by a global market. I mean, think about it: an oil company isn’t going to keep its product on the domestic market just so we can pay less for gasoline, right? Certainly not when they can get more for it elsewhere! That would be capitalism at work. (Sorry if this sounds snarky but I often see people complain when a major corporation acts like a major corporation, which sort of boggles my mind.)
    On a more general note, c’mon, people, there’s this thing called the Internet that you are on right now. It’s easy enough to educate yourselves about the Esperanza’s specs without TR doing it for you. Geez.

  • Z June 1, 2012 (11:25 am)

    I’m thirsty, got oil

    Love Green Peas in my salad.

  • bridge to somewhere June 1, 2012 (12:01 pm)

    @thistle: umm, you didn’t see my comment about the Valdez, Deepwater Horizon, etc?

  • Max June 1, 2012 (4:23 pm)

    Nice to see the Shell Oil trolls out in droves, smearing Greenpeace in a local blog. It would be interesting to see the IP address origins of those commenters. My money’s on the bet that at least some are plants. The fossil-fuel defenders always show up in discussions like this. For those who aren’t trolls, how sad that you don’t understand the full repercussions of this type of drilling … on habitat, wildlife and, ultimately, on us as a species. It’s sad, because this methodology is so short-sighted as to be the beginning of the end for our own species, at least in terms of life as we know it. Google oil companies + idle leases to get a reality check on how much we really “need” the destruction of the Arctic wilderness for oil. One last thing: Work a spill event, and see the cruel and devastating results to wildlife firsthand. You’d have to have a heart of stone to dismiss this attendant reality of oil spills so casually.

  • kevin June 1, 2012 (10:01 pm)

    The Esperana has now retreated into a dock at the north end of Lake Union, just west of Gasworks Park.

    • WSB June 1, 2012 (10:04 pm)

      Kevin, that’s kind of spooky. I was just looking up its whereabouts, since its disappearance from West Seattle waters had been pointed out to us, and noticed that. – TR

  • Mike June 1, 2012 (11:01 pm)

    Can’t quite get the logic that says that if I have ever used a drop of oil, I have to support any drilling anywhere, anytime at any cost. Think about if folks.

  • Usmm707 June 3, 2012 (1:58 am)

    Green Peace is a complete joke and run just like a for profit organization. I know people in green peace and its run like a corporation and they send people out to sign people up and take their money to purchase things such as ships and fuel to keep things turning. If people think environmentalists, hot air, and compost make the world go round , you are sadly mistaken. One thing makes our world go around at this current stage, its black and comes out of the ground. Oil greases the gears that run our world. You think things on thw shelves in stores magically appears there, no , transported by ships that run on oil. Once people get their head out of their ass and realize domestic production and moving away from OPEC is a good thing, we can move into a new segment of domestic energy production. Green Peace and the Sea Shephards are eco terrorists and should be treated as such. They continually pose a danger to themselves and hardworking mariners trying to feed their families. Oh and by the way Paul Watson is being extradited for attempted murder for a case of destructive actions against a vessel in COSTA rica. Hopefully he rots in jail… Green Peace and the Shephards are a complete joke. Why aren’t they using more political chanels and instead of spending millions in fuel and ship purchases

  • Usmm707 June 3, 2012 (2:06 am)

    Continued… purchases, grease the government officials that need greasing to further their cause. I am a mariner and people in this country have had blinders put on as to tthe real world and what makes our way of life possible. We are the biggest consumers under the sun yet don’t want to produce anything. The Beufort and Chuckchi sea hold oil reserves that should last our country through the next 50 years, and then some. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking I’m some oil crony, I am not. I’m an Alki Point resident and mariner who has no respect for those who put their own and others lives needlessly at risk on the high seas. There is absolutely no excuse puting hard working men and woman who are trying to feed their familys lives at risk.

  • dbsea June 4, 2012 (10:32 am)

    Plenty of valid points being made here. But completely disregarding one side as hippies and the other as evil is just dumb.

    Greenpeace is taking a stand on something that should matter to us all. There means of doing so are far from perfect but then they have very limited resources.

    Shell and other oil cos. are providing something we all use every day in one form or another. In some ways they go about it well and in other ways not at all.

    And this isn’t to say it all evens out because it doesn’t. I lean in favor of GP because they’re not in it for the money and if we trash our planet we’re screwed. I’m thinking of my kids and future generations.

    We’ll get the oil we need because the money is huge and money is the bottom line. I’m not worried about the oil producers giving us the oil. That will continue. I’m worried about what they’ll do to the planet in the process if left to their own priorities.

  • Olga June 5, 2012 (5:26 pm)

    Green Peace allows the necessity of oil (for the time being), but the risk of drilling in the Arctic is huge. If there is a spill (and chances are, I think 1 in 5) and the ice reforms before it can be cleaned up, it will poison the habitat in a way we can only imagine. It is not worth the risk.

Sorry, comment time is over.