Suncor Energy Inc. let Greenpeace protesters onto its property yesterday to avoid a physical tussle at the gates of one of its oil sands facilities.
A week after former Alberta energy minister Pat Nelson admonished the oil sands that the kid-gloves approach was backfiring, "we chose to let them peacefully demonstrate," said Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal. "We did notify them that they were going to be trespassing, but we did not believe that a physical confrontation would be appropriate."
More than two dozen Greenpeace protesters flew in from Brazil, France, Germany and the United States to demonstrate at the mine, which they say is unleashing "climate hell." Some unfurled a floating "Dying for Climate Leadership" sign on the Athabasca River, while others took over two bitumen conveyor belts.
"We want to get this message out internationally, that Canadians are kidding themselves if they think we can exploit the tar sands and meet our international commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions," said Greenpeace executive director Bruce Cox.
Suncor maintained most of its operations and said the protest had a minor impact, if at all, on production.
The protest marked the second in as many weeks, after Greenpeace shut down Shell's Albian Sands mine for several hours on Sept. 15.
Suncor said it subsequently boosted its security, and had been "monitoring the activities and [the]movements" of the Greenpeace activists.
One oil sands supporter pointed out that the protester's flights likely generated more carbon than the average Canadian produces in a year.