September 16, 2009 / 3:57 PM / 8 years ago

Greenpeace ends protest at Shell oil sands mine

<p>The Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in south London January 31, 2008. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Greenpeace activists who occupied mining equipment at Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Canadian oil sands project ended their protest on Wednesday after 1-1/2 days and were escorted away without facing charges, the environmental group said.

Shell said production at the Muskeg River mine, one of four oil sands projects in northern Alberta, operated at normal rates throughout the day as the demonstrators worked to spread their message that developing the oil sands hampers the fight against global warming.

The protest, which began with 25 activists and ended with 15, coincided with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday.

Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema said the group was allowed to leave the mine after leaders spoke with company officials and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Harper-Obama meeting did not produce the results that climate change activists hoped for.

“We haven’t seen nearly enough concrete commitments from the Harper-Obama meeting that they will move quickly to help the world avert catastrophic climate change,” Hudema said.

The activists entered the mine, located north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, on Tuesday and locked down a massive dump truck and mining shovel. The company temporarily suspended production at the 155,000 barrel a day site, but resumed operations late in the day.

Hudema said there was a “cordial atmosphere” between demonstrators and Shell staff at the mine, and both sides stressed they had taken care to ensure the safety of everyone.

Shell said it is working hard to improve its environmental performance by developing a carbon capture and storage project for its oil sands operations, and by advocating a Canadian and international carbon cap and trade policy.

The Muskeg River mine’s other owners are Chevron Corp and Marathon Oil Corp, with 20 percent each. It is one of four major oil sands mining operations near Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Additional reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Peter Galloway and Rob Wilson

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