SCIENTISTS surveying the Mediterranean Sea have found at least four different species, including sperm whales and three species of dolphins, where TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil are set to start seismic tests to explore for oil and gas, a new Greenpeace Greece report shows.

Sperm whales are an endangered species in the Mediterranean due to their low numbers and their vulnerability to human activities. Campaigners warn about the dire threats to these mammals, including extremely loud noise pollution from seismic blasts if the oil companies’ plans go ahead.

The survey carried out in September 2021 in collaboration with Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute consisted of a visual-acoustic survey that covered a total track line distance of 5,971 kilometres within the offshore region of the Hellenic Trench, including the area where the oil giants, plus Greek firm HELPE, were granted two joint exploration blocks in 2019. The ‘Southwest Crete’ block is located approximately 16.5 kilometres southwest of the island of Crete, while the ‘West Crete’ block is located approximately 120 kilometres to the west.

“TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil are exposing endangered species and crucial ecosystems to unbearable noise and pollution from seismic blasts and deep-sea drilling operations. And for what? To keep burning oil and gas, one of the dirtiest and most expensive energy sources, when the climate crisis demands we urgently walk away from them. Last week, Shell won a case which confirmed their permission to blast air guns every ten seconds in whale breeding areas on South Africa’s Wild Coast, though the campaign to stop Shell continues. We must stop TotalEnergies now before it starts to wreck the Mediterranean”, said Kostis Grimanis, Climate and Energy campaigner with Greenpeace Greece.

The report identifies the Mediterranean as a crucial ecosystem for marine life that is already experiencing the effects of the climate crisis. It is more urgent than ever to protect its biodiversity and put an end to extractive fossil fuel plans supported by the Greek government.

“TotalEnergies has recently invested in a multi million-Euro rebrand campaign to convince us it’s a green and responsible company. Advertising and sponsorship enables these companies to keep destroying the planet for profit. This is part of a smokescreen that we need to blow away to see what’s behind it: a huge threat to the climate and a solid chance that the biodiversity in the Mediterranean will suffer irreparable damage”, said Edina Ifticene, Greenpeace France Oil campaigner and lead organiser of the European Citizens’ Initiative calling for a ban of fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in the EU. If one million EU citizens sign the petition, the European Commission will have to consider tabling a new law.

Greenpeace demands that all fossil fuel plans in Greece are immediately cancelled. Any new investment in the falsely advertised ‘good’ fossil gas will in a few years become a stranded asset with dire consequences for the economy, the Greek and European taxpayers and the country’s natural resources.

* The petition for a new EU law to ban fossil fuel advertising and sponsorships is here . (Only accepting signatures from EU citizens)

* Read the survey report here.

* Source: Greenpeace International