LONDON, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Shell (SHEL.L) is suing Greenpeace for $2.1 million in damages after activists from the environmental group boarded the company’s oil production vessel in transit in the East Sea year, according to Greenpeace and a document seen by Reuters.
The major British oil and gas company filed the lawsuit at the High Court in London. Greenpeace activists boarded the ship in January near the Canary Islands off the Atlantic coast of North Africa to protest oil drilling and traveled on it to Norway.
In an email to Reuters, Shell confirmed legal proceedings were underway when asked if it was suing Greenpeace over the incident, but declined to comment on the claim amounts.
Boarding a moving ship at sea was “illegal and extremely dangerous”, a Shell spokesman said.
“The right to protest is fundamental and we absolutely respect it. But it must be done safely and legally,” the spokesperson said.
The vessel was destined for the Penguins oil and gas field in the North Sea, which is not yet in production.
Four Greenpeace activists used ropes to climb onto the ship from inflatable boats that were chasing the ship at high speed.
Protests at sea against oil, gas and mining infrastructure have long been part of Greenpeace operations.
The damages Shell is seeking include costs related to shipping delays and additional security expenses, as well as legal costs, according to a document seen by Reuters.
“The lawsuit is one of the largest legal threats to the Greenpeace network’s ability to campaign in the organization’s more than 50-year history,” Greenpeace said in a statement.
The group said Shell offered to reduce its damage claim to $1.4 million if Greenpeace activists agree to no longer protest any Shell oil and gas infrastructure at sea or in the port.
Greenpeace said it would only do so if Shell complied with a 2021 Dutch court order to reduce its emissions by 45% by 2030, which Shell appealed.
A claim for additional damages of around $6.5 million from one of Shell’s contractors, Fluor (FLR.N), is unresolved, according to the document seen by Reuters. Fluor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shell and Greenpeace have been in negotiations since the case was filed, but talks ended in early November, Greenpeace said, adding that it was now waiting for Shell to submit more documents to the court.
Greenpeace said it will then consider its next steps, including ways to stop the case.
Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Rod Nickel
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