Opposition

XR campaigners block Fawley oil refinery

Climate campaigners blockaded an entrance to the UK’s largest oil refinery, at Fawley in Hampshire today.

Blockade at the entrance to the Hythe terminal at Fawley oil refinery, 19 August 2021. Photo: Extinction Rebellion

The action, by Extinction Rebellion, lasted about six hours, and was in opposition to expansion plans at the ExxonMobil complex.

The protesters also demanded an immediate end to all government fossil fuel investments.

Activists dressed as grim reapers mounted steel tripods at the entrance of the Hythe terminal.

A campaigner impersonating an ExxonMobil executive pumped fake blood from an oil barrel. Others enacted a die-in.

There were no arrests.

Fawley refines oil produced in southern England, including Wytch Farm in Dorset, Horndean in Hampshire and Horse Hill in Surrey.

In 2019, plans were approved for an £800mil diesel plant at the refinery. ExxonMobil is also laying a new, larger bore pipeline to supply Heathrow and other airports with fuel.

One campaigner, James Knapp, 55, a photographer from Dorking, described a report, issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 9 August 2021, as a “Code Red for planet earth”. He said:

“As UN Secretary General António Guterres said: ‘The evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions are choking our planet and placing billions of people in danger’.

“ExxonMobil’s expansion of production at Fawley is another nail in our coffin. We call on the Government to act now to stop all new investment in fossil fuels.”

Jon Kennedy, 42, a mechanical design engineer from Brighton, said:

“The impacts of just 1.1 degrees increased heat are all around us – from the droughts that bring massive forest fires to the increased evaporation that’s resulting in fatal flooding.

“These impacts are coming faster than predicted, yet worse is to come and soon it could be beyond human control to set limits on heating as more climate feedback loops are triggered.”

Venetia Carter, 57, a tutor from Brighton, said:

“Our governments have been complicit in their failure to transition to renewables. They blame ‘demand’ for fossil fuels, as if this isn’t a result of their own energy and transport policies.”

The refinery operator issued a statement:

“ExxonMobil respects the right of people to protest peacefully and to express their opinions. Our primary concern is for the safety of our staff and property, our neighbours and the protestors themselves.

“We are working closely with the police to monitor the situation and minimise the inconvenience to our staff and our neighbouring communities.”

In June 2021, XR activists blockaded an entrance to the Hamble oil terminal, near Southampton.

Ruth Hayhurst will be reporting for DrillOrDrop from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November

18 replies »

  1. Campaigners ought to know that the current climate carnage we are seeing is from emissions up to 10 years ago, there being a decadal lag in effects within the climate system. I wouldn’t want campaigners to understate the predicament we are in.

    In those last 10 years as a planet we have increased energy use 60%, increased coal use 8%, increased CO2 emissions 8%, doubled the amount of heat in the oceans, oh and added 1 billion people to the planet. What could possibly go wrong?

  2. Too many people travelling from Sussex to Hampshire, Mark, and not only adding transport emissions but then polluting the atmosphere when they get there!

    Meanwhile aviation fuel, as per that refined at Fawley, helping to fly those poor souls out of Afghanistan. So, that is an okay form of extinction? And how about those other poor souls in Haiti? Suppose they should not receive help flown in, diggers to clear the rubble, generators to provide electricity and chain saws to clear a path to the injured? Another okay form of extinction?

    Not that caring, these ER lot, when the facts are examined.

    By the way, pre pandemic a large proportion of diesel used in UK was refined overseas and transported to UK causing transport pollution. The £800m also has a large number of new, highly paid jobs as part of the package.

  3. It is leisure and business flying, and flying produce that is not necessary to have eg out of season soft fruit, that bothers most sensible people, not emergency aid or evacuations. Hard cases always did ‘make bad law’ so I’m not too bothered by the predictable response a few minutes back.

    • Oh, so out of season soft fruit transport is nasty, but transport of oil into the UK when that could be produced within UK is different??!! Hmm. Even Greta was waffling on about the evils of UK outsourcing within the last few hours. Can’t even come up with a consistent stance.

      [Edited by moderator]

      Fawley Refinery has many gates-note the headline.

      Dogma and PR more important than empathy it appears-and not just to me. Stopping trains and buses without any idea who is having to travel and why, is another example that has been noted by many and not appreciated.

      Perhaps a more intelligent approach would be to look at the current emissions from production and import of diesel into the UK and compare to that which would result after the £800m investment at Fawley? Esso will have done that, they will also have calculated whether diesel will be required long enough to justify such an investment, eg. if soft fruit is to be grown in UK, or anything of any significance, then red diesel is required for many years to come. And, it is red to show it is subsidised, reducing food costs-all thanks to the over £20 billion per year raised in fuel duty (TAX msl). So, back to horses, and more expensive food and food shortages?

  4. Well done Extinction Rebellion! Hope your protest is seen and understood by many more people, So important at this time when the oil and gas industries are trying to greenwash their products and sell us blue hydrogen and non existent Carbon Capture technology in order to preserve their profits at the expense of our planet. (and conning the government into giving them millions!)

  5. We need to drastically reduce emissions at every opportunity end of. Fossil fuel use needs to be significantly reduced now and replaced as quickly as possible with green alternatives. There is no choice, no argument, the science is clear. The fossil fuel industry is guilty of suppressing the science and muddying the facts where climate change is concerned. This has resulted in dangerously delaying change and massive damage to the climate – they cannot be permitted to cause any further delays, the planet is at stake.

    Let us not forget this is the industry that added lead to petrol, to improve performance, knowing full well that it is harmful to health and especially children. Sadly it seems that short term greed and profit come before long term health and other negative impacts.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/exxon-knew-about-climate-change-almost-40-years-ago/

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2000/jul/13/uknews

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40593353

  6. Ahh, the selective memories are brought into misuse.

    Perhaps take a look at the health risks to those kids in the DRC, KatT, scrabbling around in the dirt for cobalt rather than being educated, and suffering the consequences as cobalt is a known and declared carcinogen. Then having to accept a pittance from Chinese buyers so that the EV market can be supplied making someone the richest man in the world, although he admits his product is still too expensive for the average buyer.

    Sadly, it seems, that short term greed and profit come before long term health and other negative impacts-as long as you can ignore the hypocrisy. I can’t. Shame on those that can. And ignorance is no excuse.

    (I worked for a company that added small quantities of cobalt into animal feed. Once it was declared a carcinogen, it was removed. Others didn’t, and continued to supply product with a skull and cross bone sign on the labelling. Seems that the anti approach is like those others, just to ignore the consequences too, and not even consider the skull and cross bone sign, just because it is inconvenient.)

    Replacing as quickly as possible does need to be considered alongside other considerations. There are already a disproportionate number of more haste less speed debacles within the “as quickly as possible” camp. I still have a decent memory and recall Cash for Ash as just one example. And, I would suggest, that ocean mining will dwarf that one, going forward. Those who advocate the more haste less speed approach will be the ones who will be to blame for the consequences, because the wider public will be turned away from repeating the same costly mistakes-like a young couple in my patch who thought it was the right thing to do to spend £15k on solar panels and now find that the value of the electricity produced hardly covers the cost of the window cleaner to keep them clean to attempt to get any real generation. The window cleaner is happy, though.

  7. Seems like the mainstream media took a lot of notice?

    Zero impact on emissions, except those caused by XR getting to Fawley….

    Irrelevant and pointless.

    • ExxonMobil might disagree, 2.5 million litres of fuel failed to leave those gates on Thursday.

      How do you define mainstream media Paul? Or did you miss it on ITV and the BBC?

      • Video is from BBC South? A bit difficult to watch in the NW? But I don’t watch TV news very often – I looked at the BBC online and the Guardian. ITV = mainstream media? You are joking?

        And how much fuel was moved on Friday?

        • And from the other gates on Thursday?

          And, be wary of mainstream media reporting. Anyone recall the absolute nonsense that was reported regarding Dyson, that the BBC had to issue an apology for a while later (very quietly)? Their sources are not that good but a good excuse to blame later.

          Goodness, they were even unaware of the event until after Boris was married!

    • About sums it up-hope, when the reality is different.

      (Culpable myopia? Using plastic to accuse someone of your own failings?)

      Meanwhile, the many gates at Fawley refinery, are open for business. Plus the pipelines, plus the sea, and the expansion of Southampton Airport is going through, which will mean aircraft can take off fully loaded instead of partially loaded.

      I always dreaded the enthusiastic individual who came to me with an idea for a publicity stunt. From a marketing point of view two questions to answer: Who will notice? How many will read something else into the action? Paul is correct. Very few, in this case regarding question one, far more, is the answer to question two. Publicity stunts and shooting yourself in the foot are closely linked. In most cases, should be avoided.

    • Iaith1720 – Myopia? Still not found anything in the Guardian even. Emissions – as above. We seem to draw different conclusions on what XR did at Fawley? Understand what? Climate change / IPCC reports etc are not being disputed. The methods and effectiveness of entities like XR are. As I said, irrelevant and pointless.

      This will win over a lot of public support:

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/19/extinction-rebellion-targets-city-of-london-over-climate-role

  8. Today 78 percent of electricity is being generated by fossil fuels and nuclear and 22 percent by renewable yet more than 80 percent of electricity supply is claimed to be 100 percent renewable. It seems you really can fool some of the people all the time.

  9. Quote: ‘Our (ExxonMobil’s) primary concern is for the safety of our staff and property, our neighbours and the protestors themselves.’
    Assuming ‘primary concern’ means their single most important aspect, I wonder why they have spent nigh on 50 years either claiming climate change is a hoax or playing down the catastrophic impacts of it, after funding their own research that confirmed it was real and catastrophic? How many people have died since that time from the effects of climate change? Quite a few this year alone in floods, gales, wildfires etc, before even starting on economic migrants from areas that are barely habitable now. Where does profitability come in their list of concerns?

    • And how many people have lived longer and with improved standards of living thanks to hydrocarbons in the last 50 years Mike? A world that didn’t have hydrocarbons would be somewhat different, and certainly not better. Very different to tobacco which is the usual comparison rolled out. Perhaps population growth is the primary reason we are where we are? We will decrease our reliance on hydrocarbons over time (hopefully), what about population?

    • Probably spent much of the 50 years researching products for those who don’t want their products to then use them and say they shouldn’t have!

      And, Mike, many more would have died in floods, gales and wildfires this year without fossil fuels. Did you not watch the rescue attempts?

      It does all seem a bit like the old joke about the religious zealot and why he was exiting the house of ill repute.

      Not long to wait until the vast hoards descend upon Glasgow, bringing enlightenment to the world. I anticipate, it will end up with the oil companies and the chemical companies to produce solutions-but, not to population growth.

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