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Shell launches £1.7m lawsuit against Greenpeace over North Sea protest

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Oil giant Shell is suing environmental charity Greenpeace for £1.7 million ($2.1 million) in damages following a protest earlier this year. 

In January, activists from Greenpeace boarded the White Marlin, a vessel transporting one of Shell's floating platforms near the Canary Islands in the Atlantic. 

The boat was traveling to Shell's Penguins oilfield in the North Sea, located approximately 150 miles northeast of Shetland.

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Shell says it is within its rights to recover the "significant costs" incurred in responding to what it termed as Greenpeace's "dangerous actions." 

The environmental activists, used inflatable boats to reach the Shell-contracted ship and climbed aboard using ropes. 

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The occupation lasted for 13 days until the boat reached Norway, prompting Shell to secure an injunction preventing further boarding.

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A Shell statement said: "The right to protest is fundamental and we respect it absolutely.

"But it must be done safely and lawfully.

"The legal costs to secure two court injunctions to prevent further boarding were significant. 

“So were the costs for the companies who had to deal with the action at sea, for example by mobilising an extra safety vessel, and increasing security at the port.

"The safety of the protesters - as well as the crew - was paramount. 

“Rightly, we did not hesitate to put in place measures to protect all people involved.

"Shell and its contractors are entitled to recover the significant costs of responding to Greenpeace's dangerous actions."

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Claim is one of the biggest in Greenpeace's history

Greenpeace said: "The claim is one of the biggest legal threats against the Greenpeace network's ability to campaign in the organisation's more than 50-year history."

The group said Shell proposed reducing the damage claim to £1.14 million ($1.4 million).

This is on the conditio the activists agreed not to protest Shell's oil and gas infrastructure at sea or port. 

Greenpeace said it would only do so if Shell complied with a 2021 Dutch court order to cut its emissions by 45 percent, by 2030.

Shell has appealed the decision.

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