Russian coast guards fired warning shots and arrested two Greenpeace activists on Wednesday (September 18) as they tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya Arctic oil platform in a protest over the potential threat to the environment from operations slated to start this year.

Production at the rig, owned by state group Gazprom and Russia's first such project in the Barents Sea, was delayed last year after similar actions. Gazprom said the delay was down to "technical reasons".

The arrested activists were from the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise. After they scaled the platform, a coast guard boat fired the warning shots to force the ship to withdraw from the base of the rig.

Greenpeace video of the scene showed a group of boats - both coast guard vessels and inflatables from the Arctic Sunrise - jostling for position at the base of the rig.

Greenpeace said it received a threat that the ship itself would be fired at if it did not leave the area immediately.

"We're here in the Russian Arctic taking action against the first Arctic oil platform to go into production, which pose a huge threat to the fragile environment. Gazprom is known for its poor safety standards and we've seen Shell screw up in the Alaskan Arctic last year, and now these two reckless oil companies are teaming up. It's a disaster waiting to happen. We can see the Arctic Sea Ice melting in front of our own eyes, and instead of seeing that as a huge threat to mankind and the planet, oil companies are rushing into the Arctic to drill for the oil that caused climate change in the first place," said Greenpeace Arctic campaigner, Faiza Oulahsen, on board Greenpeace ship "The Arctic Sunrise".

Global majors including ExxonMobil, ENI and Statoil have agreed deals with Russia's state-owned Rosneft to enter Russia's Arctic offshore waters.

Most of these projects are due to begin extracting in the 2020s, and are seen as crucial to maintaining the 10 million barrels a day of oil flow from the world No. 1 producing nation.

Presented by Adam Justice