Oil Free Otago staged a ‘beach cleaner’ protest outside Community House on Thursday, where Shell Oil were meeting with environmental groups about their plans for drilling off our coasts in the Great South Basin.
This meeting was part of Shell’s campaign to legitimise their claim that “Environmental concerns are very close to our heart.” To this, we say “Fui”, something Dave’s nana used to say to mean “bullshit”. Shell have a terrible safety and environmental track record. For example, Shell spilled nearly 14,000 tonnes of crude oil into the creeks of the Niger Delta in 2011, they have also recently had to cancel their plans to drill for oil in the Arctic this year.
Our first objective for the day was to engage with members of the public to make them aware of the deep-sea oil risk that is being posed to our coasts. We had an overwhelmingly positive response, with many members of the public joining us in protest for various periods of time.
It was our goal to ensure that Shell is aware that they, and any other oil companies, are unwelcome to drill off the coasts of Otago. We achieved this by, very ‘vocally’, escorting’ the Shell representatives to their car (which we noted was parked in the Countdown carpark, rather than in legal pay-and -display parking 😉 ). They were certainly in a hurry to leave.
Derek Onley, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Ornithological Society, said,
“There was little new information.Shell have back-pedaled on their ’empty-ocean’ stance, and are now accepting that yes, the ocean is full of creatures. In fact, they now agree that their drill site is in the middle of a whale migration zone. They mentioned that if there was an oil blow out, it would take relief response at least 14 days to arrive here from Singapore.”
Shell said that they have still not decided whether or not they will go ahead and drill.
Oil Free Otago will continue to oppose Shell and Anadarko at every step of the way.