Greenpeace Activists board Arctic-bound Shell Oil Rig

The organization said that, on Monday, six activists along with the environmental group Greenpeace have boarded a Royal Dutch Shell oil rig in the Pacific Ocean bound for the Arctic.

In a statement, the group said that its team would occupy the underside of the Polar Pioneer's main deck and is planning to unfurl a banner with the names of millions of people those are opposed to Arctic drilling. It also added that they would not interfere with the vessel's navigation.

Johno Smith, 32, one of the six to board the Blue Marlin, the ship carrying the rig, said that they are here to highlight that in less than 100 days Shell is going to the Arctic to drill for oil. He added that the actions of Shell have been exploiting the melting ice to increase a man-made disaster.

In an email statement, Shell said that it has already met with groups against oil drilling off Alaska's shores and that it respects their views but condemned the boarding.

Shell said, "We can confirm that protesters from Greenpeace have illegally boarded the Polar Pioneer, under contract to Shell, jeopardizing not only the safety of the crew on board, but the protesters themselves".

The move has come a few days after the US Interior Department upheld a 2008 lease sale in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, and moved Shell a step closer to returning to oil and gas exploration in the Arctic since it suffered mishaps in the region in 2012.

A lot of environmentalists have opposed offshore energy exploration in the Arctic. According to them, after the beginning of production, any oil spill would be extremely difficult to clean up.

Oil industry interests said that in the coming decades when output from shale formations is expected to wane, the Arctic will become important to the country's energy security.