Greenpeace faces fines over Dutch oil protest

Dutch exploration firm demands compensation following occupation of offshore drilling platform

Greenpeace Netherlands has been asked to pay DF350,000 (Ecu158,000) in damages for a seven-day occupation of an oil drilling platform just north of the Wadden Sea - an ecologically protected area. The company that owns the site, the Dutch Exploration and Production Company (NAM) which is jointly owned by Shell and Exxon, is accusing it of interfering with its drilling plans in defiance of a court injunction made last year (ENDS Daily 25 August 1997). Greenpeace contests the claim pointing out there was no activity at the site at the time of its protest at the end of April. The environmental group wrote to NAM's lawyers asking for a compromise settlement but this was declined and the case is now due to be heard in court on 11 June. Greenpeace says its protest was intended to draw public attention to the issue of oil exploration in an ecologically sensitive area shortly before the general election on 6 May. Prior to the election, MPs from two of the three parties in the new coalition government said they were opposed to oil exploration activities in the Wadden Sea area. Greenpeace is now lobbying them to live by their position during discussions to agree on the new government's manifesto. No one from NAM was available to comment on the issue today.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace Netherlands, tel: +31 20 422 3344; NAM, tel: +31 592 36 9111.

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