OMV Stay Away


“Stay Away from the  Great South Basin (GSB)” was the message loud and clear from Oil Free Otago at St Clair beach today (Saturday 18 May).  

OMV is planning an exploratory drill in permit PEP50119 in deep water about 150 km from Dunedin as early as this summer.The Austrian oil giant purchased Shell’s remaining assets there last year for $790 million.

“Today all over the world people like us remember the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico by joining hands across the sand. OMV’s planned drill is exploratory and in deep water, just like the Deepwater Horizon was. But OMV’s planned drill is in more treacherous marginal conditions. Help is nowhere near. OMV can never exclude the risk of a catastrophic oil spill or gas blowout” said Oil Free Otago’s Rosemary Penwarden.

“Our bodies form a symbolic line in the sand to say No More to fossil fuel exploration in our oceans.”

A letter to OMV was signed at the event and Oil Free Otago is gathering a ready response team of people to oppose OMV at short notice.

“We are building up a team to oppose OMV with harbour blockades and the like. We are serious about protecting our southern ocean, our way of life and our children’s future. OMV has no place here.”

Here’s our letter:

18 May 2019

Alan Clare

Exploration and Appraisal Manager,

OMV New Zealand

The Magestic Centre

100 Willis St

Wellington 6011

We, the undersigned, demand that OMV surrender their Great South Basin permit PEP 50119 immediately.

We, the people of Dunedin, Otago, have again gathered to oppose your company OMV’s intention to drill for oil and gas in our southern ocean.

We have written to you before but you are not listening. As we have already told you, New Zealanders have a strong history of resistance wherever we see injustice. The biggest injustice facing us today is the breakdown of our climate system. 

Since we last wrote cities around the world have declared a climate emergency, including Christchurch and Nelson in Aotearoa NZ. School children have walked out of school in their thousands to demand a liveable future. Average atmospheric CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa observatory have reached 415ppm. This January the US Midwest froze while Australia burned, while five months earlier 11 massive wildfires raged within the arctic circle.  

The Great South Basin is marginal, dangerous and infinitely precious to us. We cannot burn most of the already discovered oil and gas to stay within a survivable limit of global warming. As each day passes your intention to drill for more unburnable oil and gas becomes more untenable. It is madness. It is both unjust and immoral. We will resist you every step of the way.

We humans face the future together. Your children as well as ours will suffer from continuing burning of fossil fuels, keeping your heads in the sand and continuing with Business as Usual. Your industry belongs in the past. Why not, instead of wasting more money on exploring for a stranded asset in an inhospitable ocean, help us all by investing in a fairer, non carbon energy future?

Yours sincerely

Oil Free Otago 


Drilling protest/celebration is just the beginning

DCC protest turns celebration

1 May 2019

We Made Them Cake!

What a great turnout on Monday at our OMV Unwelcome rally. OMV were planning to present their upcoming plans to drill in the Great South Basin in a closed meeting with Dunedin City and Otago Regional Councillors. But some of the Councillors said they would not go.

As a thank you to them, for standing alongside us and speaking up against OMV, we baked them a cake! ♥

Here’s what the Councillors said


  • Cr Deaker said he wanted to do “nothing to support or encourage any fossil fuel industry, in Otago or anywhere”. I want a wonderful future for our grandchildren and they won’t have that unless climate change is stopped.”
  • Cr Scott said he preferred to ”establish plans for the future, not the past.”
  • Cr Laws said he never makes “450km round trips to suit the interests of public relations promoters when they could just email their propaganda like most paid lobbyists do.”
  • Cr Ella Lawton said she would be going, to be informed, but was ”adamantly against” the plans.


  •  Cr Hawkins said he saw ”little value” in the briefing, as there was ”nothing they could say to convince me that the environmental and economic aspirations of our community are well served by more deep-sea drilling”.
  • Cr Damien Newell, said ”if I go, it will be in protest. The science is in – there’s nothing they can tell us. He said he was ”absolutely philosophically opposed to the offshore drilling”, which was just ”wilful and wanton damage for our environment and our planet. It’s just madness.”
  • Crs Garey and Jim O’Malley would attend, despite their opposition to drilling, to hear from the company, ask questions and express their concerns and those of the community. Cr O’Malley said ”If I don’t like the answer, I’m going to leave immediately.”

Mayor Cull is in China but last week wrote to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to reiterate the DCC was ”strongly opposed” to offshore drilling.

It’s a strange and wonderful thing to have elected councillors actually reflecting the will of so many of us, and speaking out. This is a far cry from the Anadarko days in 2013-14, when it seemed almost no one in power could see past the company spin.

Even so, we have the fight of our lives coming up, friends, against one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world. OMV is one of 100 companies responsible for 70% of the world’s emissions.

Last week Dunedin was hailed as having the biggest uptake of private electric cars per capita in NZ; all those emissions savings mean nothing if we allow this company to drill off our coast.

We think OMV need to know about the proud history of peaceful civil disobedience in Aotearoa and we hope you will join us to teach them. When we see injustice, we act. Drilling for unburnable oil and gas is unjust and in Cr Newell’s words, just madness.

As summer approaches we hope to decorate Dunedin with a very clear message:

OMV: Keep Out of the Great South Basin

Please email if you can help in any way. If you would like to donate to the campaign to kick OMV OUT of the GSB, please make a regular donation if you can. No matter how small,  a regular donation will help us build up people power to stop OMV in their tracks.



New to activism? Here’s a tip: if you’re a parent, you have exactly what it takes to become a climate activist: patience, endurance, dogged determination, good deduction skills and the ability to keep one step ahead of your opponent! Humour! If you’re not a parent then you’ve been a kid and will have all of those skills too, plus a youthful energy that can never be underestimated. ♥

Also coming up:

Friday 10 May 7pm – Film: Reluctant Radical at Knox Church 449 George St, Dunedin

Saturday 11 May 10am – Go Fossil Free Bank Challenge at the Dunedin Railway Station

Saturday 18 May 9:30am – Hands Across the Sand at St Clair Esplanade

Let’s end with the words of Mayor Cull in 2017: “The world is waking up. We can’t identify benefits of exploring for oil off our coast. We don’t have any kind of right to trade in our grandkids’ futures for a few pieces of silver now.”


OMV: Expect Resistance


Otago community leaders Torea Scott Fyffe, Waiariki Parata-Taiapa, Niamh O’Flynn, Peter Matheson, Bob Lloyd and Brendan Flack stand aboard the sailing vessell Tiama in front of the drill ship the Noble Bob Douglas in 2014. Photo by Nick Tapp –

Austrian oil giant OMV last week (10 April 2019) announced plans to drill for oil and gas in the Great South Basin (GSB) as early as this year. OMV took over Shell’s GSB drilling permit and last year were given extra time by this government to decide whether or not to proceed with deep water exploratory drilling in the southern ocean.

Last week, on the one year anniversary of the Ardern government’s ban on new offshore oil and gas permits, they signalled they will go ahead.

“OMV’s decision blatantly disregards Jacinda Ardern’s call for climate change to be her generation’s nuclear free moment. It is a slap in the face to the millions of young people around the world striking for urgent action on climate change, including more than a thousand school students here in Dunedin.” Oil Free Otago’s Rosemary Penwarden said.

“OMV may not yet understand how much we care about our ocean, our sea creatures and birds, and our southern way of life. They may not know the proud history of peaceful civil disobedience in Aotearoa NZ. They may not know that our city’s leaders have opposed deep sea drilling, divested our ratepayers’ money from fossil fuel investments and are already on the way to a fossil free future.

“One year ago, we wrote to OMV and told them not to come. They need reminding.”

Last year’s IPCC report makes it clear. The world’s economies must massively and swiftly reduce our use of coal, oil and gas to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Most of the fossil fuels already found cannot be burned if we are to have a hope of preserving a liveable climate.

“And yet OMV plan to explore for more unburnable oil and gas for short term profit at the expense of all of our futures. That is inexcusable.” Ms Penwarden said.

“OMV is one of 100 oil giants responsible for 71% of global emissions. Instead of looking for more unburnable oil and gas OMV and the others should be putting their billions into renewable energy and infrastructure projects needed in the face of climate disruption, rising oceans and more ferocious storms, floods and droughts. They should put their money where the future is.

“OMV should surrender their drilling permits and leave Aotearoa. If they continue they should expect resistance every step of the way.”


Join the resistance! email us at

Find Oil Free Otago on facebook

Kayaktivism at Port – Saturday 13 October meet at back beach 12 midday

OFO ready response practice run 12 January 2014

Do you have a kayak, surf board, small boat, paddle board?

Or are you a landlubber who wants to stop deep sea drilling in our southern ocean?

The Rainbow Warrior is coming to Port Chalmers

Join us on land and water to greet the Rainbow Warrior and send a message to

OMV (Austrian oil giant): No Drilling Here!

The government stopped new oil and gas permits (except for 3 years in Taranaki) – hooray Aotearoa! Great step forward, and the Rainbow Warrior is here to help send a message of hope to the world. But our work is not done. OMV still has an existing permit to drill for oil and gas in our Southern Ocean. We can’t afford to burn most of what is already discovered if we want a liveable future for our kids. We will resist these companies every step of the way.

On land: showcase the fossil free city we are building – OMV: we don’t need you!

At sea: Resist! #endoil #makeoilhistory – OMV: we don’t want you!

More to come! Want to help? Email

sign up to OFO fb page

Or ring Rosemary on 0221856966

Hands Across the Sand 2018

St Clair Esplanade
11am Saturday 19 May

We are winning – but it’s not quite over!


This year, PM Jacinda Ardern’s government put their money where their mouth is and banned future oil and gas permits. A great start, but it’s not enough. Current permits in our southern ocean have not been banned, and two major oil companies, NZ Oil & Gas and OMV (which bought Shell’s permit this year) are still considering drilling in the Canterbury and Great South Basins this summer.

Scientists tell us we can’t burn most of the coal, oil and gas already discovered and keep below two degrees of global warming. We know that if we are to win this race against time to protect a liveable future, we cannot afford to explore for any more new oil and gas.

It’s time for the oil companies to get this too. If the government isn’t going to stop them, we will.

Please join us as we peacefully draw our human line in the sand to say NO to more oil and gas drilling and YES to a clean renewable energy future.

See you there!
Oil Free Otago crew

PS: “Hands Across the Sand” began in 2010 after the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster and quickly grew into the biggest protest against offshore oil and gas drilling in the world, with over 40 countries participating. Oil Free Otago have joined this event since 2012 when we first began opposing deep sea drilling in our precious Southern Ocean. Let’s kick it to touch this time!

Like Oil Free Otago on Facebook.
Email us to join the fight to #endoil –

Today we Celebrate!


Otago community leaders Torea Scott Fyffe, Waiariki Parata-Taiapa, Niamh O’Flynn, Peter Matheson, Bob Lloyd and Brendan Flack stand aboard the sailing vessel Tiama in front of the drill ship the Noble Bob Douglas off Taiaroa Head in Feb 2014.  Photo by Nick Tapp –

12 April 2018 – Great Work Prime Minister – but don’t stop there…

Oil Free Otago congratulates the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Government for ending new offshore oil and gas exploration in Aotearoa NZ, and calls for them to go a step further and ban current permits for new oil or gas exploration, including the Barque Prospect off Oamaru.
“Today’s announcement is a wonderful, historic step forward for all of us, young and old. We would like to thank all our supporters over the years who have put enormous effort into opposing Anadarko, NZ Oil & Gas (NZOG), Shell, Beach Energy, OMV and others. This is your day.” Oil Free Otago’s Rosemary Penwarden said.
“Really, it is everyone’s day, because it is a win for the planet, home to us all, a win for the albatross, Oil Free Otago’s adopted logo, and a win for all the sea creatures we have worked for many years to protect from oil and gas drilling.”
The government today announced that onshore oil and gas exploration will continue in the Taranaki region and that current permits elsewhere will not be stopped. That means that exploratory drilling in NZOG’s Barque Prospect off Oamaru and in OMV’s prospect in the Great South Basin, recently purchased from Shell, may still go ahead this coming summer.
NZOG (recently purchased by Singapore-based O.G.Oil & Gas, so not a NZ company) are struggling to find an investor for the  Barque Prospect which they describe as a “game-changer” for the region, emphasising any find is likely to be gas, the so-called “clean” fossil fuel.
“What the industry fail to mention about natural gas are the fugitive emissions or methane leakage that comes from every new oil or gas well.”
Natural gas is mostly methane before it is burned, a very potent greenhouse gas – calculated to be around 86 times more potent than CO2 over a 20 year period. Recent research from Harvard shows that methane leakage from gas production and delivery in the US rose by up to 30% in the 12 years up to 2014. Many studies besides the Harvard one find that even a very small amount of methane leakage from gas wells and transport systems can have a large climate impact — enough to cancel out any emissions advantage gas may have over coal.
“So the timing is all wrong for gas” Ms Penwarden explains. “For a start, it’s too late. It takes up to a decade or more for a new discovery to reach the commercial stage, then the well could produce for many decades, long past the time by which we need to have reached a zero emissions economy. Second, the South Island has no infrastructure for gas. Why would our government and regional councils spend millions now on new gas infrastructure that will be obsolete before it even gets used?
“Third, why invest in drilling for and using new gas when we could be using that money now on renewable technologies?
“Fourth and most important: climate change is here now. We don’t know for sure if we’ve reached a tipping point that will lead to unstoppable climate breakdown, but for NZOG to drill for new gas now is reckless if not criminal.
“If the government is not going to stop NZOG and OMV then we, the people, will. Today we celebrate a historic win. Tomorrow we continue the fight. Let’s hope these companies read the writing on the wall, pack up now and go home. We have an exciting new clean energy economy to build.”

Dunedin City Council Ten Year Plan – make Dunedin fossil free

Dunedin City Council 10 Year Plan
Submissions close 12 midday Monday 23 April
Book to speak Thursday 26 April 9-1 or Tuesday 1 May 9-12

What will Dunedin look like in ten years?

How about a fossil free Dunedin with safe cycleways, warm affordable homes, cooperative working spaces – or worker owned cooperative businesses! How about a Dunedin-style ‘Cuba Street’ pedestrian precinct in the middle of our beautifully restored Victorian district? …Or do we burden future ratepayers with more debt and $20 million bridges?
Oil Free Otago and 350 Dunedin made the following joint submission to the DCC Ten Year Plan. We hope you will find a moment in the next few days to make one too.
“As the elected representatives of Dunedin, you are at the forefront of the most important time in our history, because climate change is threatening to destabilise everything we think of as familiar. You must put climate change front and centre of the 10 Year Plan.”  
There’s still time to submit!
Submissions close 12 midday Monday 23 April
Book to speak Thursday 26 April 9-1 or Tuesday 1 May 9-12
The DCC need all our voices to help them make the right decisions now to protect our future

Joint Oil Free Otago and 350 Dunedin Submission to the Dunedin City Council Ten Year Plan

Oil Free Otago is a group of Dunedin citizens who oppose deep sea drilling off our Coast. Instead we support Dunedin’s just transition to a low carbon economy.
350 Dunedin is part of the international climate movement We engage individuals, communities, businesses and governments around climate change solutions through grassroots collective action.

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the DCC Ten Year Plan. We wish to speak to our submission.

Put Climate Change Front and Centre of the 10 Year Plan
Every decision this council makes from here on in must be made with this question in mind: will this help our city mitigate and adapt to our new climate changed world? We are in for huge economic upheaval as the world attempts to decarbonise. We need to rethink our economy, the way we travel, produce food, manufacture and trade. There is no time to waste. You, as the elected representatives of Dunedin, are at the forefront of the most important time in our history, because climate change is threatening to destabilise everything we think of as familiar. You must put climate change front and centre of the 10 Year Plan.  

Divest, Defund, De-sponsor
In terms of mitigation, we applaud the DCC divestment of the Waipouri fund from fossil fuel exploration. We support your strong stand against the previous government’s Block Offers for oil and gas exploration permits. We urge you to continue your opposition of fossil fuel exploration in our region. We strongly urge you to continue this legacy by now defunding and de-sponsoring from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel companies attempt to gain a foothold and try to build social licence by funding research and other projects in cities where they see there may be a strategic advantage for them. For example, NZ Oil & Gas currently fund the Dunedin Cosy Homes Trust, of which Mayor Cull is chair. This is contrary to his participation in the Global Covenant of Mayors. Oil Free Otago and 350 Dunedin urge the DCC to find another sponsor and funder for this and any other project that accepts money from fossil fuel companies. It is time to take a moral stand against the fossil fuel industry. We also urge the Council to not allow future oil conferences to be held in Dunedin’s council-owned venues.

Our vision
Dunedin, in ten years, could be a place where everyone has a healthy and affordable place to live, enough (mainly local) food to eat and meaningful work. It could be a place where our children choose to live, work and raise our grandchildren. Where they can walk, cycle or take public transport to get to work, learn and play. It will need to be a city approaching net zero emissions, with an efficient organic waste recycling industry, job opportunities in low cost timber eco-house building, public and private transport industries, building retrofits, solar and other renewable energy industries. The central city, including hospital and university, could be heated entirely with renewable electricity from a flourishing City Forests waste wood industry. Dunedin will be coal free. Our transport fleet will be fully electric and we could lead the country in our electric vehicle conversion industry.
Future and current Dunedin ratepayers will be grateful that ten years earlier, our elected city councillors – you – resisted the temptation of a cosmetic spendup designed to attract rich developers and instead had the foresight to prepare for a climate-changed future. Instead of leaving our children and their generation with more debt to accompany stronger storm surges, sea level rise, coastal erosion, increased risk of drought, floods and wildfires, you focused on how to prepare this city for those events. In the process, you subsidised cheap or free public transport, helped kick-start low carbon manufacturing, worker owned cooperatives, local currency and other initiatives so that money stopped leaking out of our local economy and stayed where it was needed. You continued the great work of restoring Dunedin’s ‘Victorian’ quarter, making Lower Stuart St, Vogel Street and the Octagon wheelchair friendly pedestrian precincts where locals and tourists mix and enjoy Dunedin art, music and cafe culture.

Build Trust Not Debt
All of these things can be achieved alongside a concerted effort to reduce inequality and make Dunedin a city where all citizens feel a sense of community. That sense of community comes from belonging, knowing your neighbours and doing things together. It comes from eliminating the social divide between the haves and the have-nots. It does not come from burdening the next generation with unaffordable debt.

Council’s Ten Year Plan major projects

  • We do not support the Council’s preferred option of an architectural bridge. Instead we support separate cycleways and wheelchair friendly linked pedestrian thoroughfares – these may include a modest bridge which could be heritage-style in keeping with surrounding restoration work, while still being affordable. We have no time to waste – we have a city to protect from climate change.
  • We support investment in the central city if this includes wheelchair-friendly pedestrianising of Lower Stuart Street and other heritage streets as suggested. And – let’s not borrow more to do this.
  • Instead of the Council’s preferred option of substantial investment in the tertiary area we support ending slum accommodation for students. That will include an official Warrant of Fitness for landlords and a cap on rent rises. No more price gouging by greedy landlords. Support and encourage good landlords.

Further comments

  1. We support the DCC taking back the buses from ORC and trialing free bus services from South Dunedin and other lower socioeconomic suburbs into the city. This will help to reduce both pollution and inequality. Other cities around the world provide some free public transport including Melborne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Five cities across western Germany, including Bonn, Essen and Mannheim, will install free public transport by the end of this year, to help reduce pollution. Los Angeles provides a free electric car share system in its poorer suburbs. We support the progressive rollout of e-charging stations for electric bikes and vehicles across the city.
  2. We urge increased Council investment, support and engagement in South Dunedin and other more vulnerable parts of the city.
  3. We support a moderate progressive rates rise for those who can afford it. They should be related to households’ disposable income.
  4. No to more debt. It is borrowing from our kids.
  5. Don’t sell off our assets. They belong to the next generation of ratepayers.

Thank you
Oil Free Otago and 350 Dunedin

Fossil Fueled Collusion; industry, media, people and politics

Dunningham Suite, Dunedin Public Library

Sunday 23 April 2017

Hosted by OIL FREE OTAGO and SEA (Students for Environmental Action)

10am – Dr Terrence Loomis presents: 

Petroleum Development and Environmental Conflict in Aotearoa New Zealand

Shortly after the National government came to power in 2008, it set out a policy framework called the Business Growth Agenda in response to the global financial crisis to boost economic growth.  The Agenda included major expansion of the oil and gas industry in the hope of a ‘game changing’ discovery.  In hindsight National may not have fully appreciated the challenges it was buying into.

States seeking to grow their economies through expansion of resource extraction face more complex dilemmas than a few short decades ago.  Besides the increasing influence of transnational corporations on domestic politics and democratic institutions and the need to prevent or mitigate the environmental damage from increased extraction activities, there is mounting evidence that unconventional oil and gas technologies and riskier ‘frontier’ exploration activities are harming communities, local environments, and human health.  In addition international accords and growing citizen concerns over climate change are compelling states to review their energy policies and plan how to transition to a low-carbon economy.

In the case of New Zealand, the government chose to undertake a number of orchestrated steps in collaboration with the petroleum industry to remove perceived impediments to industry expansion, promote the petroleum industry to ‘middle New Zealand,’ and defuse, co-opt or subvert environmental opposition.  The petroleum industry developed its own set of strategies, or borrowed them from overseas, to help achieve their mutual aims.

Economic anthropologist Dr Loomis has researched these developments over the past several years. In this book he examines the government’s maneuvers and oil industry strategies more closely.  He reveals how criticism and resistance activities by environmental activists, concerned citizens’ groups and even some local authorities not only disrupted government/industry efforts and highlighted National’s contradictory energy and climate policies, but had far-reaching effects on institutional relations and values between the state and the community sector.

Published by Lexington Books, Lanham, MD

11am – Dr Sophie Bond presents:

Debating deep sea oil: dissent, disdain and solidarity

Sophie Bond, lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Otago, teaches and researches in areas of social and environmental justice. In particular, she is interested in how dissent, open public debate, and social action are enabled as a crucial part of democratic engagement. Her current work explores how action for climate justice is enabled or constrained by neoliberalism and contemporary forms of governance.

Research authors: Amanda Thomas, Gradon Diprose and Sophie Bond

12:00 – 3pm – Stay for a shared lunch, discussion and play GO MINE

Dunedin artist and activist Ruth Evans developed the subversive table top card game Go Mine for her Master of Fine Art programme at Otago Polytechnic.

Based on New Zealand’s mineral extraction industries, Go Mine allows players to act as corporate tycoons intent on mining the planet for resources. Action cards attack or defend against opponents. Shipments are created and exported, allowing players to gain the points needed for further mining and future bribing of officials. Players can establish conference calls where they can attempt to actively reform the entire system or “make their own rules”.

In order to win Go Mine, a player must own 5 bribe cards at the end of their turn. However, should the planet be exhausted before this is achieved, everyone loses.

Go Mine is available for purchase by individuals, schools or groups.

No Time For Fools

Local Body election posters plaster the papers, hoardings speckle the roadside, candidate meetings populate our calendars. Each candidate professes to have answers to our biggest issues, in similar but vague terms, as long as we give them our vote Number One.

But will the next batch of Dunedin City Councillors work to safeguard our future, or sabotage it?

One thing’s for sure; the government doesn’t seem bothered about the future; Energy Minister Simon Bridges’ annual lolly scramble for the oil and gas industry, Block Offer 2017, includes putting 210,884 square kilometres of the Canterbury and Great South Basins up for grabs. Iwi are being consulted as we speak, and local body consultations begin on 17 October.

As in previous years ordinary citizens have been shut out of the consultation, so we depend on our elected councillors to represent our views.

This year, the need to oppose new fossil fuel exploration is even more urgent. A report just published by the group Oil Change International calculates that to meet the Paris Climate Agreement to keep the world below two degrees of global warming we cannot afford any new oil and gas drilling. None.

What’s needed now is a swift, managed decline in the production of all current oil, gas and coal production.

What’s new is this: even the coal, oil and gas in currently producing wells and mines will take us beyond two degrees of global warming. As for new exploration? Ever once dreamed of Dunedin as a Taranaki-of-the-South, or a southern hemisphere Aberdeen? Forget it. You’re fifty years too late.

While the government ignores reality, local councils have got to take the lead.

Last year, as well as formally opposing the Block Offer, the DCC voted to divest from fossil fuel extraction, becoming the second New Zealand Council in the country to divest, joining the worldwide movement to stop investing and profiting from the fossil fuel industry.

Just two weeks ago the University of Otago joined the DCC in committing to be ‘fossil free’.


This is but a small contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but the real issue here is a moral one; we can no longer invest, profit from and run our establishments on an industry that is destroying the world, and thanks to these commitments Dunedin can proudly uphold the moral high ground.

Dunedin voters urgently need to know if our next councillors are going to maintain our own growing reputation as a climate leader.

Who to vote for? Oil Free Otago emailed 41 councillor hopefuls last week (two had no email addresses) and received 13 responses, asking:

  1. “Where do you stand in relation to oil and gas exploration off the Otago Coast?”
  2. “Will you commit to submitting in opposition to the Block Offer if you are elected to the Dunedin City Council?”

Two candidates, Andrew Whiley, spokesman for the industry front group Pro Gas Otago, and Richard O’Mahoney, both support oil and gas exploration and will not support a written submission from the DCC opposing this year’s Block Offer 2017.

Neil Johnstone does not “particularly like marine-based oil operations for environmental reasons” but “cannot commit to or against any proposal that I haven’t had any opportunity to appraise”.

Nine others (Aaron Hawkins, Scout Barbour-Evans, Dave Cull, Marie Laufoso, Islay McLeod, Steve Walker, Abe Gray, David Benson-Pope, Damian Newell and Jim O’Malley) oppose deep sea drilling. Eight of these will support a DCC submission opposing the Block Offer while current Mayor Dave Cull will “commit to expressing the views of the Dunedin community as best we can ascertain them. On the last occasion DCC submitted, the overwhelming preponderance of views expressed by the community was opposed to further exploration and extraction.”

We did not receive replies from the other council hopefuls, but do know the views of current councillors. Here’s how those who are standing this time round voted when the DCC moved to divest its shares in fossil fuel extraction companies last year:

  • In favour of fossil fuel divestment: Chris Staynes, David Benson-Pope, Aaron Hawkins, Kate Wilson and Dave Cull
  • Opposed to fossil fuel divestment: Andrew Whiley, Mike Lord, Doug Hall and Lee Vandervis

The government has chosen April Fools’ Day 2017 for the new exploration and drilling permits to begin, but no oil companies have even bothered to bid for permits amid the roaring forties and furious fifties of our treacherous southern ocean since 2013.

Last month two oil prospecting companies, ION Geophysical and Houston based TGS, withdrew their prospecting permit applications before they were even approved. Anadarko, which drilled unsuccessfully off Taiaroa Head in early 2014, cut over 1,000 jobs this year, cut their capital spending by half, and asked the government for a permit extension. Shell is showing signs of leaving New Zealand altogether, after delaying its planned exploratory drill in the Great South Basin last summer.

Dunedin voters: let us vote wisely. This is no time for Fools.

PS: In case you haven’t voted, here’s a late response from Mayor hopeful Athol Bayne (who doesn’t seem to have heard that we can’t keep burning oil for 300 more years): Hi, my thoughts are somewhat different from most as while at the moment oil is the primary part of our technology its role must decrease to reduce carbon greenhouse gases and pollution .The dwindling sources of  new oil worldwide and the use of shale oil extraction mean the Great South Basin is unlikely to economic to be exploited before 2050 if New Zealand is prudent. There must however be put in place before exploitation begins a comprehensive plan and working anti-pollution measures need to be in place including putting export controls on usage of the hopefully NZ processed petroleum based products to ensure the lowest possible greenhouse gas emissions are enforced. The current Government policy does not meet these requirements and our existing infrastructure and technology as well as our nations liabilities for search and rescue could become very stretched, as nowhere in the oil exploration world encounters such extreme sea swells  as the southern Ocean.

I will oppose the block offer as it is too soon to be tapping the great south basin oil field and new Zealand needs to plan  the exploitation properly and not run off half cocked taking whatever crumbs are being offered. With proper investigation and planning we can get a much better outcome for New Zealand and once again the current Governments plan for raw procut expot is so lacking in vision we should process the oil here and export with controls a value added product ensuring the most employment for our citizens coupled with rigid environmental protection. Helen Clark’s government also attempted this but luckily the weather proved to extreme to be economically exploitable  and now National is trying the same tired old ploy of not getting best value for new Zealand.There is no hurry and we need to think long term as the great south basin holds in excess of 300 years worth global oil at current rate of usage  and this amount of oil  and green house emissions needs to be both exploited and controlled by NZ for NZ and world benefit as un restricted use would be irresponsible stewardship of this wonderful planet God has put us on. Regards, Athol Bayne