By Charles Onians and Jan Hennop (AFP) – Sep 21, 2012
THE HAGUE — Royal Dutch Shell counter-attacked against Greenpeace on Friday, asking a judge to ban the group protesting near any of its property, with a million-euro fine as the cost of flouting the ruling.
The oil multinational wants an order to ban "any Greenpeace protests in the Netherlands within 500 metres (yards) of its operations, including petrol stations or offices, or face a one million euro fine," the environmental lobby group said.
Greenpeace said the suit targeted its global campaign against drilling for oil in the Arctic and that Shell wanted a fine of an additional "100,000 euros for every day or part of a day that a violation of such order lasts."
It was unclear however whether the injunction sought by Shell related to Greenpeace's protests in the Netherlands alone or would extend to its actions worldwide.
"They are seeking to stop the global Greenpeace campaign against Arctic exploration," Greenpeace lawyer Jasper Teulings told AFP.
But Shell spokesman Wim van de Wiel declined to confirm this, saying "we have to wait until October 5" when the judge will hand down a finding.
Greenpeace has organised several protests against Shell's exploratory drilling in the Arctic, including last week using bicycle locks to shut down pumps at more than 60 filling stations in the Netherlands.
Shell said on Monday that it was delaying until next year exploratory drilling for oil in offshore Alaska after suffering damage to a dome used to contain any potential spills.
Shell's search for oil in the region is facing deep opposition from environmentalists, who worry that an oil spill could have devastating effects on the pristine Arctic environment.
"We have launched an urgent application in the Amsterdam District Court against Greenpeace to stop them from holding any protest actions at Shell's assets including filling stations, refineries and our head office in The Hague," Shell spokesman Van de Wiel earlier told AFP.
"We believe the protest action damaged small business owners and people who have really nothing to do with Shell's drilling operations in the Arctic."
Last week's protest shut down Shell pumps but not service station shops, according to Greenpeace. The protests led to 18 arrests and ended after firefighters cut through the bicycle locks.
The environmental group said that other companies' petrol stations were available near all the Shell stations affected by the protests.
"Greenpeace's freedom of expression is important, but we believe their actions are damaging people who have nothing to do with our operations," Van de Wiel said.
Greenpeace said that Shell was pursuing three suits against Greenpeace USA and 13 other environmental and Indigenous organisations in Alaska to try to stop future legal challenges against Shell's Arctic operating licences.
"All this is a thinly-veiled attempt to prevent public scrutiny of the true cost of its drilling campaign and its ability to deal with a disastrous oil spill," said Greenpeace lawyer Teulings.
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