Greenpeace activists board Statoil rig

Greenpeace activists boarded a Statoil ASA rig on its way to drill in Norway's northernmost Barents Sea.

Greenpeace said the exploration well is too close to the polar ice cap and a crucial nature reserve, Bloomberg reports.

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The rig won't be able to continue its voyage or start drilling until the roughly 10 activists are off the vessel.

“The action has so far been peaceful, but it’s still an irresponsible and illegal action,” said Oerjan Heradstveit, a Statoil spokesman. “It’s too early to say” if the drilling scheduled for the end of the month will be delayed, he added.

Statoil isn't the only oil company encountering obstacles from green groups, lawmakers and courts for attempting to tap into oil and gas resources in the Arctic.

“We’ll only leave the rig voluntarily after Statoil has promised it won’t drill,” Greenpeace program manager for Norway Truls Gulowsen told Bloomberg News. “This area is too vulnerable, and an oil spill would drift in the wrong direction, so we can’t allow drilling.”