Exxon, Rosneft Arctic Drilling Assailed by Greenpeace

Celebrities joined advocacy group Greenpeace International in seeking a ban on oil drilling and excessive fishing in Arctic waters that would scuttle plans by Exxon Mobil Corp. and its Russian state-run rival OAO Rosneft to extract petroleum there.

Paul McCartney, boy band One Direction and entrepreneur Richard Branson are among those named on a scroll calling for the ban, Amsterdam-based Greenpeace said today during a press conference at the UN’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.

Exxon, Rosneft and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are among companies seeking to drill for oil in the Arctic, which is estimated to hold 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“It seems madness that we are willing to go to the ends of the Earth to find the last drops of oil when our best scientific minds are telling us we need to get off fossil fuels,” McCartney in a statement. “We need to take a stand.”

Greenpeace intends to collect 1 million names for the scroll, which will be planted on the seabed four kilometers (2.5 miles) below the ice at the North Pole.

Greenpeace activists occupied a Shell icebreaker in Finland in May to protest the company’s plans to drill for oil off the Alaska north coast. The company won U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service authorization to disrupt animal habitats in the region this month, moving it closer to starting drilling in the area this year.