08 JAN 2020 

Police in Dundee, Scotland have arrested a group of protesters with Extinction Rebellion after an unauthorized boarding of the jackup rig Valaris JU-122 (Ensco 122) on the River Tay. Three of the environmentalists climbed aboard the rig and stayed for about five hours, leaving when weather conditions began to deteriorate. Three others attempted to board but were arrested in the act.

“Police can confirm that four men and three women have been arrested in connection with the incident. Inquiries are ongoing,” said Police Scotland in a statement.

The rig is operated by Valaris and is due to drill several wells for Royal Dutch Shell in 2020. In a statement, Extinction Rebellion Scotland said that the action was targeting Shell.

The operation was intended to last for up to 10 days, but it was quickly called off due to the weather. In a statement, the group said that the protest’s objective was to stop the rig leaving the harbor and to halt its operations. “[The protesters] have assessed the risks and are properly prepared,” XR said. “This is just the beginning of Rig Rebellion 2.0, Extinction Rebellion Scotland’s series of actions focussing on the fossil fuel industry and its driving role in the climate crisis. Actions are planned across Scotland for the next fortnight.”

An Extinction Rebellion spokesperson told the BBC that it also aims to put pressure on the UK oil and gas sector as a whole. “[Trade association] Oil & Gas UK . . . need to own up to its role in the climate crisis and face the fact that our future must be fossil free,” the spokesperson said.

Oil & Gas UK rejected the group’s accusations and described the action as a “dangerous and short-sighted stunt.” “This stunt puts both the activists and offshore workforce at risk and our industry – with its focus on safe operations – will not condone these actions,” said  the group’s CEO, Deirdre Michie. “We know that the premature shutdown of the North Sea would only increase reliance on oil and gas imported from across the world where we have no control over emissions and with none of the substantial benefits our indigenous industry brings with its thousands of skilled jobs, the funding of public services and energy security.”

Michie also called for cooperation and pointed to Oil & Gas UK’s plans for carbon reduction, including the reduction of emissions from production and the deployment of future carbon capture and storage technologies. “If Extinction Rebellion is serious about net zero then it needs to become serious about what will be required and recognize the critical contribution our industry could make . . . This is an industry in action, and we are committed to working with anyone to find solutions and deliver the low carbon future we all want to see,” she said.


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