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(Adds new Greenpeace statement, details)
June 9 (Reuters) - Greenpeace activists said on Sunday they halted the progress of an oil rig destined for BP Plc's North Sea exploration programme off the coast of Scotland.
The activists demanded that one of the world's biggest energy companies immediately end drilling new wells and invest only in renewable energy or shut its operations and return cash to investors.
Greenpeace said in a statement that a team of activists in boats drew up besides the 27,000-tonne rig as it was trying to leave Cromarty Firth.
The statement quoted a Greenpeace activist from Scotland it identified as Jo as saying: "This rig and the 30 million barrels it seeks to drill, are a sure a sign that BP are committed to business as usual, fueling a climate emergency that threatens millions of lives and the future of the living world."
BP said in a statement: "While we recognise the right for peaceful protest, the actions of this group are irresponsible and may put themselves and others unnecessarily at risk."
The company said it was working with Transocean Ltd , the rig's owner and operator, and other authorities to resolve the situation.
BP added that it shared the protesters' concerns about climate and that it supported the Paris climate agreement.
Responding to BP's statement, Greenpeace said that while the rig was owned by Transocean, it was on its way to the Vorlich field to drill new oil wells operated by BP.
Last month, Greenpeace activists blocked BP's London headquarters in St James' Square in central London, demanding the company end its oil exploration.
(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Louise Heavens and Peter Cooney)