Reasons To Stop A Russian Oil Tanker

Credits: Alexandr Popadin/ Unsplash

A recent news article published in the Enfield Dispatch speaks about ‘Why I blocked a Russian oil tanker?’

33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel

Under the cover of darkness, we silently carried the boats down to the shore. As the boat crews rigged up the engine, me and my climbing partner completed our final safety checks and lifted our equipment on board, being careful not to pierce the inflatable hull with any stray metal objects attached to our harnesses.

The quayside was slippery and one misjudged step might send us into the water. It was shortly after last orders at the nearby pub and three inquisitive bystanders had stumbled upon us, asking a few innocent questions about what they thought was our ‘training exercise’.

As we got the nod to go, the boat driver set us off into the darkness. High tide was almost upon us and the waters of the Thames Estuary were calm. Faint specks of light in the distance revealed our target across the water.

Navigator Terminals

As we approached the Navigator Terminals, an oil facility in Essex close to the London border, one of the crew signalled towards a ladder in the distance. A tanker, the Andromeda, was carrying 33,000 tonnes of Russian diesel and was due to dock here soon. We needed to get there first.

The driver held the front of the boat steady against the ladder, and one-by-one we climbed up to the jetty above. I secured my ropes around a mooring post normally used to hold an oil tanker, while my buddy kept watch. Operating only by torchlight, I climbed on to a huge buffer plate – used to protect the jetty from ships as they dock – and abseiled back over the edge into darkness.

My job was to put my body between the oil tanker and its docking berth, keeping the cargo stuck at sea for as long as possible. With adrenaline now wearing off and anxiety starting to set in, news finally came in that we had forced the tanker to turn around. No ships would be docking that night. No diesel would be unloaded and no money generated from the sale of fuel. I was able to relax. With only water below me, I set up my ‘portaledge’, a suspended tent, and made myself comfortable inside.

As the moon reappeared in the small hours of the morning, I reached into my bag and pulled out a banner – “Fossil Fuels War” – and held it ready for sunrise. For a day we were able to prevent the vessel from unloading tens of millions of pounds worth of diesel into the UK market. Globally, oil and gas sales make up 40% of the federal income of the Russian state, and this directly finances the war crimes Putin is committing in Ukraine.

Last month I, along with nine other people, were put on trial. We were charged with aggravated trespass; of disrupting a lawful activity. The court ruled we were not guilty. It was described as a “seismic verdict” for UK energy policy. As further evidence of war crimes in Ukraine have been uncovered, our actions are further vindicated.

UN climate change conference

Thirteen years ago I attended COP15, the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. At the fringes of the conference, scientists, engineers and campaigners presented solutions to decarbonise economies and decentralise energy networks. If governments had listened then, we might have prevented the crisis we find ourselves in today. Had we acted earlier to build vast amounts of onshore wind, put solar on all new-builds, insulate homes and install heat pumps, then we might have been able to halt oil imports from Russia at the start of the war. And I could have spent that April night safe at home.

The best time to break our deadly reliance on fossil fuels was decades ago, when scientists and campaigners first raised the alarm. The second best time is now.

Benji lives on a boat moored near Enfield Lock. This article first appeared as a blog on the Greenpeace UK website.


Did you subscribe to our daily Newsletter?

It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe

Source: Enfield Dispatch