Shell Oil's icebreaker MSV Fennica weaved through nine remaining protesters hanging from the St. Johns Bridge and made its way toward the Pacific Ocean.
Authorities have removed protesters dangling from a bridge and in kayaks in Oregon, allowing an icebreaker to get through and head toward the Arctic, The Associated Press reported.
Demonstrators had been trying to stop the Fennica from leaving Portland, Oregon, and heading for an oil drilling operation, the AP reported.
The ship had tried to leave earlier Thursday, but was forced to turn around by the protesters dangling from the bridge.
"The Fennica is now safely on its way to Alaska and will join Shell's exploration fleet in the Chukchi Sea -- where the Transocean Polar Pioneer commenced initial drilling operations at approximately 5:00 tonight AKDT," Shell Oil said
Earlier, a federal judge in Alaska ordered Greenpeace be fined $2,500 for every hour that the protesters continued to block the ship.
The company now has until Sept. 28 to drill the top portions of up to two wells at its Burger prospect about 70 miles northwest of the Alaska coastline, but after fixing a damaged icebreaker is hoping to convince regulators to let it go deeper this year.
The company is hoping to net a multibillion barrel oil discovery that could deliver a swift boost to its balance sheet and yield production decades from now.
“The prospect . . . has the potential to be multiple times larger than the largest prospects in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico
, so it is huge,” Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden told reporters in an earnings call Thursday. “If, indeed, we do find oil, and if we find an acceptable path to develop it, it will start to produce in 2030.”