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OMV cans council meeting in wake of protest

Oil giant OMV has cancelled a meeting with Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council about new drilling plans in the region after several councillors announced they’d boycott it.

Local group Oil Free Otago had organised a protest outside the council buildings this afternoon to coincide with the meeting.

Oil Free Otago’s Rosemary Penwarden says the group will continue with the protest as planned to stand in solidarity with the councillors speaking out against OMV’s plans to drill for oil and gas in the Great South Basin.

“We’re turning today’s protest into a celebration, to thank the councillors and to acknowledge a small win for the climate,” she says.

“OMV cancelling this meeting at the last minute is further evidence that the company is feeling the pressure of growing public unrest in New Zealand in response to its plans to drill here for the fossil fuels that are driving climate change.

“One year ago, we wrote to OMV and told them not to come - they now need reminding that they must surrender their drilling permits. If they continue, they can expect resistance every step of the way.”

In April, the oil giant announced it could drill for oil and gas in the Great South Basin as early as this year. OMV had previously acquired the drilling permit from Shell. The permit was due to expire, however last year the Government granted the company an extension.

One year ago, the Jacinda Ardern-led Government garnered international praise by issuing a ban on new oil and gas exploration permits. It did not apply to permits obtained before the ban.

Penwarden says OMV’s decision to continue with drilling plans is contrary to Ardern’s famous call for climate change to be this generation’s nuclear free moment.

“Last year’s shock IPCC report made it clear that the world’s economies now only have 10 years to massively and swiftly reduce our use of coal, oil and gas to prevent the worst effects of climate change,” she says.

“Most of the fossil fuels already found cannot be burned if we are to have a hope of preserving a liveable climate. It’s immoral that even in this knowledge, OMV is bulldozing ahead with plans to find more oil and gas to drill, and all for the sake of short term profit at the expense of all of our futures.”

OMV is one of 100 oil giants responsible for more than 70 per cent of global emissions, and has most recently been drilling for oil in the remote waters of the Arctic.


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