Environmentalists have questioned from the start what they saw as an unseemly rush to extract oil from West of Shetland. A rare natural resource should be husbanded carefully and eked out over the longest period possible, they argued.
This does not justify Greenpeace in occupying BP’s Stena Dee rig, disrupting the start of production. But it is interesting to compare BP’s response to Shell’s over the Brent Spar.
The circumstances in BP’s case – involving a field coming on stream rather than a piece of equipment at the end of its life – are different. But many will consider there are moral as well as legal issues at stake, and in public relations terms BP’s decision to sue Greenpeace for damages is likely to backfire.