Direct Action Against the Oil Industry

Tagged as: action cja climatechange climatejustice crudeawakening directaction environmentalism london oil
Neighbourhoods: london
Published by group: GroupImc London Features

On Saturday 16th October, Climate campaigners gave the Oil Industry a Crude Awakening, taking direct action against the industry for its role in exacerbating climate change, as well as its devastating impact on local communities and environments around the world. Three blocs starting from three different places, one mass action - "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty". 

Around 500 demonstrators converged on Stanford-le-Hope, site of Coryton oil refinery and Shell Haven Oils, blockading the entrances in three places using a variety of tactics. See report and pictures [2, 3, 4, 5][video,2][youandifilms][audio] See also Edinburgh Crude Awakening [flickr] - Camp Climat France: Total Refinery Action [info | pics]


(crude awakening 16.10.10)



For coverage:See CrudeAwakening website, follow the crudeawake and climatecamp twitter accounts or the #crudeawake hashtag, and check out the indymedia london Tumblewire, and the crudeawakening flickr account.

Crude Awakening is part of the Climate Justice Action's global week of action for climate justice, and is supported by a coalition of direct action groups: Space Hijackers, Plane Stupid, Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, Rising Tide, Climate Camp, Liberate Tate, Earth First, UK Tar Sands network.


See Also:

Oct. 12: Global Mobilization in Defense of Mother Earth and the Peoples

Rising Tide Banner Drop, Avonmouth - Oct 12th

Minga Global 2010


Press release


Climate activists launch blockade of the UK’s busiest oil refinery
Hundreds of Crude Awakening protestors board trains to join the blockade

12 climate activists have blocked the sole access road to Coryton oil
refinery in Essex, the UK’s busiest oil depot and the largest supplier of
oil to London.

The all woman group, affiliated to the Crude Awakening, are locked to
immobilized vehicles on both lanes of the road, preventing oil tankers
from leaving the refinery to deliver oil to London.

Coryton refinery is 30 miles north east of London, near Stanford-le-Hope
in Essex[1]. In a coordinated move, around 500 protestors from the Crude
Awakening event in London boarded trains bound for Stanford-le-Hope, a
short walk away from the refinery. Previously announced plans to target
central London oil businesses were revealed to be a bid to outfox the
police, with Coryton having been the ultimate destination all along.

Terri Orchard, who is taking part, said:
“We don’t have a hope of tackling climate change if we don’t find a way to
start moving beyond oil. But Big Oil is relentless. From the Gulf of
Mexico to the Arctic to the Canadian tar sands, oil companies are
devastating local environments, trampling the rights of local communities,
and pushing us over the edge to catastrophic climate change.

We are here at the source of the problem, at the UK’s busiest oil
refinery, to stop the flow of oil to London. We’re here to put a spanner
in the works of the relentless flow of oil and to say no more. This place,
this whole industry, must become a thing of the past.”

This action is taking part of the global week of action called for by the
Climate Justice Action Network (CJA). From the Philippines to Argentina,
people from 22 different countries are this week taking action against
the fossil fuel industry[2].

The Crude Awakening is supported by a spectrum of direct action groups
including the Camp for Climate Action, Plane Stupid, Rising Tide, Space
Hijackers, Liberate Tate, Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination, Earth
First! and the UK Tar Sands Network.

For more information and interviews, call 07917742175 or email
Follow updates on twitter on @crudeawake

Note to editors
[1] Coryton Refinery
The Manorway
Essex SS17 9LL

On the A1014 off A13.

Coryton is owned by Petroplus and has a refining capacity of 10 million
tonnes per year. It is the UK's busiest oil refinery and supplies oil to
petrol stations, airports and factories throughout London and the
southeast. It is used by bp, shell and all of the oil majors.

Crude Awakening Action Report

Crude Awakening. A mass direct action to
stop the flow of oil to London. Three blocs:
the Dirty money bloc meeting at Euston,
the Building bloc meeting at Waterloo and
the Body bloc meeting at Victoria. The final
location \ target to be revealed over twitter.
This is all that was known before the day of
the action. At 10:00 people on the different
blocs started receiving twitter updates and
text messages directing them where to go
next. After a bit of travelling around
London via the tube the target and location
were revealed, Coryton oil refinery, the
busiest in the UK. News came through that
12 women had locked on to two vehicles
on the only road that services the refinery,
blockading it and preventing oil tankers
from entering or leaving the site. They
where soon joined by the Dirty Money bloc
who helped reinforce the blockade and the
Building bloc who set up a second
blockade with bamboo tripods and arm
tubes further down the road that not only
served as a secondary blockade but also
blocked access to another road leading to
a second refinery owned by Shell. The
police had been completely on the back-
foot all this time expecting, like everyone
else for the action to happen in London,
they took some of their frustration out on
the Body Bloc by delaying the train to
Stanford-le-hope. One of the more
comfortable police kettles. However one
carriage was subjected to a stop and
search looking for “items that may be used
to cause criminal damage” or as one
officer put it Molasses used to poison fish
with. The body bloc eventually arrived to
reinforce the Tripod blockade. The final
addition to the party was a group of stilt
walkers. There were now around 500
protesters blockading the refinery which
normally sees tankers containing 34,000
litres (7,500 gallons) of oil leave the site
every few minuets. The supply of oil to
London had been successfully turned
off. A large Shell sign was given a bit of a
redecoration with police unable to act due
to a laundry area provided by The Space
Hijackers where activists were able to
quickly change appearance. The first
blockade packed up and merged with the
Tripod blockade at 5:00pm with both
packing up soon after. No arrests were
made. The only criticism of the action
would be that it’s been said that the 12
women who originally locked on did so as
an all women group with no men allowed. I
don ’t know if this is true but if it is then for
a movement that prides it’s self on being
inclusive and treating all people equally no
matter what class, colour or gender
(Climate Camps non-gender specific toilet’s
for example), if it is true then its somewhat
annoying that we are introducing such
divisions. I hope it’s not true. That been
said it was an awesome and inspiring
action, blockading the UK’s busiest oil
refinery. We need a lot more actions like
this more often. Well done every one

steps to liberation

If you'd read the leaflet handed to all participants on the train with all the info you needed to know, you'd know for sure that it was a women's affinity group that initially locked down.

I think you should allow people the right to organise as they themselves see fit. If they want to have an all women's group for the hell of it, or because they feel the need, that's their choice and my feelings are irrelevant.

Maybe you should ask yourself why you feel threatened by this, and why there might be a need for it? Think about who organises, and who speaks, and for how long. The ecological direct action movement has always been pretty balanced on gender numbers-wise, but that doesn't mean we've reached some elevated status where we've re-learned all the inbuilt societal prejudice that we're surrounded by. And in any case, in climate campaigning, it's not such a good balance, with some meetings having loads more men that women (never mind behaviour and space domination issues).

As one of the films said, Get Over It.

Bit More Video

ITN News Report (bit wrong but exciting footage)

police kettle at fenchurch street station:

Two more Crude Awakening Videos

Crudeawakening..Essex,16th oct 2010,Keep oil in the ground...


CRUDE AWAKENING - (justdoitfilms) 16th October 2010.mp4

Over 1,275 Crude Awakening Pics Now Online

Just for note, the running total of pictures published is now over 1,275.

Of those a rough count shows around 760 uploaded to flickr accounts, 345 to demotix, 75 to Indymedia London, and another 100 to three other personal websites (and no doubt plenty more I've not seen).

Whilst it's great to see so many people masking up, one does wonder if all the attention directed towards police evidence gathering teams taking pictures is also missing out all the other collateral evidence gathering going on by other well intentioned photographers. No criticism intended. Was just quite surprised at how many pictures there are online.

Text from Amelias Magazine on CA

A Crude Awakening shuts down Coryton Oil Refinery

Original post with selected pictures:

Our addiction to oil is a major cause of climate change and creates all sorts of climate injustice. That's why it's important that we draw attention to the problem. Here's a personal account of the Crude Awakening action on Saturday 16th October, from someone who took part.

Written by Sophia Coles-Riley

It’s the day of the Crude Awakening. I walk into Waterloo station on Saturday morning and spot a few familiar faces. We wander around trying to look nonchalant, giving each other secret smiles. Some people manage to look more discreet and ‘normal’ than others; standing in a group to one side of me is a fabulous gaggle of drag queen laundry ladies, all answering to the name of Dot. (A few weeks ago police turned up at a few activists’ houses and were spotted searching them for clothes that matched those worn by people at the Climate Swoop at Ratcliffe on Soar coal fired power station last year. The Space Hijackers‘ Laundry ladies were on hand to give people “an instant restyling that the police fashion hounds were not able to keep up with”.) Suddenly, a little after 10am we give up on the nonchalance and things start to happen. A large collection of ‘oil’ spattered white jackets appear as if from nowhere, legal observers handed out ‘bust cards’ with useful numbers and info about your legal rights, and people started passing around little blue and yellow flags.

Beep beep. All around me I can see people reaching for their mobiles. Before the weekend we had all signed up for a text messaging service that would be sending out updates throughout the day.

We set off in a stream of people down the escalators into the tube. I can imagine it might be a bit of a shock for Saturday shoppers to suddenly come across hundreds of oddly dressed people! On the tube I get chatting to this ace older woman who wants to know all about us and is full of questions, thanks, and words of encouragement. Our train is mysteriously delayed so we all pile out at the next stop and start walking through the streets of London. Apparently people overhear some cops running through the list of possible targets, trying to work out where we are going. Safe to say, they don’t work it out in time.

When we get to Fenchurch Street station the shout goes out to head for Platform 4. We get onto the waiting train with still no idea where we are going. As the train heads out of the station an A4 flyer which is being passed around the train is thrust into my hand. We’re on route to Coryton, the UK’s busiest oil refinery (responsible for 22% of the UK’s forecourt demand)! Hell yeah! I’d guessed that we were maybe going to target an oil company head office but we are actually going to go and put ourselves literally in the path of the flow of oil. Peak oil may be fast approaching but not fast enough that what’s left won’t royally screw up the climate if we burn it. Business, governments and other vested interests have shown time and time again that they don’t want to do anything about it. That means it’s down to us, together.

The train is a hive of activity. People discuss the target as they go through the goody bags that have been handed out. Everyone tries on a carabiner wrist straps (a crucial part of arm tube lock-ons that we use to blockade spaces, and which make it easier for us to be removed from somewhere we have ‘locked on’ to). Even while we are on the train 12 women blockade the only entrance to Coryton refinery by attaching themselves to the underside of vehicles but they won’t be able to hold the road for long without us. The three different themed blocs (Dirty Money bloc, Building bloc and Body bloc) hasten to join them.

Stanford-le-Hope is outside of the Oyster card zone so none of us have a valid ticket once we pass Grays. In what is to become a theme for the day there are too many of us working together for any obstacle to be insurmountable. We simply walk through the barriers out of the station and make our way to the refinery in our three different blocs, stopping briefly to pick up some kit stashed under a hedge on the way. Basically all the seriously under prepared police can do is follow us and watch us do precisely what we want. They have a go at seizing one of the tripods from my bloc and I heard rumours of attempted arrests (and prompt de-arrests) on the other blocs.

Travelling cross country we make it to our target location on the Coryton Oil Refinery entrance road, just up from the Shell Haven turning (two oil targets in one, woop woop!). There is a truly beautiful moment as, count ‘em, 12 tripods go up in moments and the road is ours. Now, you may not know this already but the ‘traditional’ metal tripods you see on protests are a bit of a pain-they’re blimmin’ heavy and take 4 or 5 people to erect. Bamboo tripods, as trialled in this video released before the action, can be carried, erected and climbed by just one person in a pinch.

Through the day our blockade gradually grows as we are joined by other blocs, including the beautiful ‘Day of the Dead’ stilt walkers. We grow so strong that the police, after marching at the barricade in a little phalanx, are quickly forced to retreat and let us get on with it. But we do lift a small section of the blockade briefly though in order to let the workers out at the end of their shift. As we’ve said many times before, we have no quarrel with the ordinary workers of polluting industries; we’re on the same side.

Locals tell us that oil tankers normally drive up and down this stretch of road every few minutes so all the time we are there we are preventing thousands of gallons of dirty oil from reaching the capital – 375,000 gallons in total. What’s even better is the fact that this isn’t just us taking action. Crude Awakening is part of a global week of action called for by the Climate Justice Action Network (CJA). We are just one of many protests taking place on the same day by people from 22 different countries… from the Philippines to Argentina.

It truly is an amazing day. 500 of us working together to stop the flow of oil with no one able to stop us. Oh, and the police have to hold the train station barriers open to let us on to the train home – the cherry on the cake of an empowering day.

Written by Sophia Coles-Riley on Friday October 22nd, 2010 2:01 pm

SchNEWS on Crude Awakening



Utmost secrecy, activist goodie bags and sheer determination shut down the the UK’s busiest oil refinery last week in one of the most well-planned actions the climate justice movement has seen so far.

Stilt walkers, a samba band and around 500 activists blockaded the road to Corydon oil refinery in Essex on Saturday (16th), stopping an estimated 400,000 gallons of oil getting to London’s petrol stations. Organised by a coalition of action groups including Camp for Climate Action, Plane Stupid and UK Tar Sands Network, the 9-hour blockade was part of a global week of action against the fossil fuel industry that saw protests in 22 other countries.

With very few details released before the day, three blocs of protesters gathered at Euston, Victoria and Waterloo stations that morning with a clear mission - to disrupt the flow of oil - but no knowledge of who the target was, where or how. The crowds gathered with an obligatory but small police presence. At 10am the signal was given for each group to head down to the tube, where they navigated their way through London, following flags and listening to whispered directions.

The Dirty Money Bloc ended up at Fenchurch station first, and boarded a train, when it became clear for the first time that the action wasn’t in the city. They were soon joined by the Building Bloc. Twenty minutes into their suburban journey, pieces of paper were handed down the carriages of squashed-in protesters. The target and plan was finally revealed: to blockade Corydon oil refinery in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex. Corydon is the UK’s busiest refinery and largest supplier to the major oil companies’ petrol stations in London.

Next to appear were huge laundry bags of ‘protest packs’, which were handed out to all the demonstrators on the train (leaving the two cops who came along for the ride looking a bit left out, bless’em). Inside was an impressive direct action toolkit: white boiler suit, mask, map to the location, rope, carabiners and a tube to lock-on at the blockade.


Suited, masked and ready to go, around 300 activists arrived at the very normal town of Stanford-le-Hope, 30 miles east of London. With sound systems blaring and flags waving, the blocs made their way through the streets. Given the strange looks given by passers-by, you can bet Stanford-le-Hope doesn’t get this sort of visit very often. They weren’t the only ones surprised by the action - with the Met busy ‘protecting’ the oil financiers’ HQs in London from a never-to-appear anarchist mob, the protest was met with only a very small and very local police presence.

The blocs split to take different routes to the refinery, one road and one cross-country. Each heard the announcement: an all-women affinity group had already started the blockade. They were locked-on underneath two vans they had driven onto the road. Now they just needed the protest to catch up with them.

Unfortunately the third bloc had been waylayed at Fenchurch, where police had blocked platform exits and ordered the 200-strong group off the train to search them under a Section 1 order. The party-pooping tactics didn’t work for long - the group caught up with the protest later in the day, swelling the already strong numbers.

Missioning across the fields to the target, the Dirty Money Bloc managed to break through no less than five police lines, linking arms and pushing through each time the coppers tried to get in the way. FIT were kept on their toes as people used umbrellas and banners to block the camera. At the sight of the gaggle of protesters rounding the corner to the refinery, around 15 empty tankers parked in a adjacent car park roared into life and shot down an unblocked back road, obviously terrified of getting caught in the middle of it all.

As people saw the tankers making their getaway, a group huddle formed, questioning whether to go and join the affinity group already at the blockade or to set up a second blockade at the back exit. In one of the quickest consensus decisions ever made, people decided to join the affinity group. The Building Bloc and the newly arriving Body Bloc were to set up the second blockade.

Just as the first blockade came into view, two meat wagons screeched up from behind with sirens blaring, attempting to stop the group from reaching their mates by getting in front of them. Protesters fanned out, blocking the road and preventing the cops from getting ahead - a move that topped the list of the day’s victories by protesters vs. police. At around 1.30pm, the Dirty Money Bloc got to the blockade with much cheering and celebration. They immediately locked-on in lines, supporting the women who had been holding strong since 11am.

Over at the second blockade, the Building Bloc had reached their destination, complete with bamboo tripods. The Met made their presence known by trying to rush the group as they set up the tripods. The lines held strong, however. In total six tripods were put up between lines of locked-on demonstrators straddling both sides of a dual carriageway. The shut down of the refinery was complete. Hard work done, the Body bloc arrived with more fun in the form of sound systems, a samba band and stilt walkers, handy for stringing up banners.


Both blockades got visitors from locals during the day, mainly groups of curious kids on their bikes. Several mini direct action workshops took place, with the kids being taught how to lock on, given boiler suits and taught all the chants. One group particularly got into the spirit, shouting ‘fight the power’ back at the lines of cops and joining in with chalking anti-oil messages over the road. The press were kept away however, as police refused to let anyone with a camera or notebook through to the protest.

At about 5pm, the first blockade made the decision to pack up and go down the road to join the party. After perhaps watching one too many dance routines by the stilt walkers, a meeting was soon called and it was decided to end the action by ‘tactful withdrawal’, point made, and all without a single arrest. Just as swiftly as it had struck, the 500-strong crew dismantled itself and headed for the station and the after-party.

As one protester put it: “Today’s action showed what can be done by a group of people determined to show the oil industry that what they are doing needs to be stopped, and how well it can be achieved with collective action and co-operation.”

The -A- team: We love it when a plan comes together.


Friday 22nd October 2010 | Issue 744

re all women lockon blockade

Why Women?

All over the world, women, along with children, are hit first and hardest by climate change – just as we are hit first and hardest by spending cuts and the way the multinationals and rich countries governments are bleeding dry the poorest people in the poorest countries.

First because we everywhere have less to fall back on than men do – less money, less time, less help.

Secondly because when disaster strikes (flood, drought, hurricane, war, oil leak, unemployment . . .) it is women everywhere who work hardest to clean up the damage, pick up the pieces, keep the children alive and sane, and maintain our families and communities.

Thirdly, because even more than men, many of us invest our lives and hopes in the next generation, the generation that is now being robbed of its future by policies that put profit before people and before the planet.

Direct action against climate change and in defence of our communities exposes the truth behind the stereotype of nurturing women: both mothers and other women, of all ages, are capable of any kind of action we choose.

Women are the first and foremost givers, preservers, and protagonists of life.

Life, on planet earth, is based on water, which makes up most of the human body.

Oil and water don’t mix.


(by indefilms333)
Nice clear voice over explaining the action... good stuff!