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Greenpeace activists confront deep sea oil exploration ship

Greenpeace activists confront deep sea oil exploration ship

Auckland, Monday 17th October, 2011. This morning Greenpeace activists held a legal protest outside Port Taranaki against a ship that is due to depart imminently to start exploring for deep sea oil – the new frontier of oil development off New Zealand’s shores.

There was a heavy police presence at the port overnight and this morning – to protect the controversial ship, Polarcus Alima, which arrived in Taranaki this morning. It is due to leave shortly to start exploring for oil off Raglan at depths of up to 1600 metres, on behalf of US oil giant Anadarko (1).

If the ship’s survey is successful then the drilling of wildcat oil wells off Raglan could begin as early as next year (2). Anadarko were part owners of the 1500 metre deep well the Deepwater Horizon was drawing oil from, which leaked 780 million litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico last year over a three month period. A major reason it took so long to control the leak was the extreme depths the oil companies were operating in. The ship will later go on to prospect in deep water areas off Stewart Island, in a permit area due to be taken over by Shell Oil.

Greenpeace Campaigner Simon Boxer said, “Greenpeace are here conducting a legal peaceful protest to expose the fact that even as oil continues to seep from the wreck of Rena, the Government is pushing ahead with the next phase of their controversial deep sea oil drilling plans.

“The Government’s blinkered obsession with deep water oil drilling has to stop now. It’s time for it to stop spending millions on trying to entice the deep sea oil industry to New Zealand and telling us that to drill ever deeper is the only future for this country. This is simply not true; study after study tells us that leveraging New Zealand’s clean reputation is the key to our economic future.”

Mt Maunganui-based surfer Dominico Zapata, who was part of the protest said, “I’ve spent the week clearing oil off the beaches of Tauranga and witnessing the devastation on Motiti Island. I’m here today to say never again. If we can’t control the spill from Rena, then we have no chance of containing a deep sea oil drilling disaster.”

Another protestor, Raglan resident Phil McCabe, said, “Two years ago I stood up to see off plans to open our best conservation land for mining and today I’m here to take a stand against deep sea oil drilling. Rena showed us that our oceans and our coastlines are too valuable to gamble for oil.”

He continued, “It chills me to imagine the impact of a blowout from one of the Government’s planned deep water oil rigs – then we would be looking at millions of barrels of oil washing up on our shores, not hundreds.”

Greenpeace has been dealing with a surge of public interest following the Rena spill. Thousands of New Zealanders signed Greenpeace’s ‘No New Oil’ petition over the last week, with the total number of signatories now standing at over 92,000.

A team of volunteers organised by Greenpeace NZ have been working since Saturday to help clean toxic fuel oil off beaches in the Bay of Plenty. Today they are working to clean up Matakana Island.

A Greenpeace scientist with experience of assessing the impacts of both the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf and spills in the Amazon has also been brought to the Bay of Plenty to provide expert advice.

CONTACTS:

Phil Crawford Greenpeace Press Officer in Taranaki can be reached on 021 229 9594 Simon Boxer, onsite Campaigner in Taranaki is on 021 905 579. Footage and photos of the ship arriving and of the protest will be available. A Greenpeace spokesperson is also available in Mt Maunganui. To arrange an interview contact Dean Baignent-Mercer on 022 673 0572.
Footnotes:

(1) Polarcus Alima is due to be in New Zealand waters for the next four to five months conducting deepwater 3D surveys. The first surveys are being done for off Raglan in depths of up to 1600m on behalf of a coalition of oil companies led by Anadarko. http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/4948787/Taranaki-set-for-deep-sea-drilling

(2) source: energy news bulletin. http://www.energynewsbulletin.net/storyview.asp?storyid=2489610§ionsource=s69

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