At 8:00 this evening, the Oil Free Otago Flotilla came face to face with Anadarko’s drillship, the Noble Bob Douglas. The yachts of the flotilla occupied the site where the Noble Bob Douglas intends to drill its exploratory well. Via radio, the Otago community leaders on board SV Tiama, voiced their opposition to the drilling plans to the captain of the drillship as it approached. The spokespeople represented a range of different groups within the Otago community. Each person spoke to their area of expertise, ranging from climate change to concerns for fisheries, but all came together to share a common message – Stop deep sea drilling off our coast.
“My responsibility as Kaitiaki is to protect and enhance our Taonga. It’s not just about now, it’s about the future,” said Brendan Flack, Tangata Tiaki.
Rev Dr Peter Matheson told the captain of the ship, “Anadarko’s actions are criminally irresponsible, and, from my religious perspective, structurally sinful. There will be no blessing upon them.”Professor of physics, Bob Lloyd, addressed the issue of climate change, and stressed that “we simply cannot go after unconventional fossil fuels, such as deep sea oil and gas, if we are to stay below the 2 degree warming limit.”. Torea Scott-Fyfe represented the youth in her call for Anadarko to abandon their drilling plans “to allow us to have a liveable future.”
The flotilla now intends to return back to Otago to bring their fight back to land. “This fight is not over. No matter how many closed-door meetings you have, or how far out to sea you go, we will be there every step of the way to oppose deep sea drilling,” said Niamh O’Flynn, spokesperson for Oil Free Otago.
Photos and Video from the flotilla coming soon.
7 February 2014
Otago community leaders set sail in protest of deep sea drilling
This weekend, the Oil Free Otago Flotilla will depart from Dunedin to confront Anadarko’s drillship, the Noble Bob Douglas, 35 nautical miles off Taiaroa Head. The flotilla comprises of three yachts from around Otago and Southland.
Otago community leaders will be on board the lead yacht, Tiama, including Rev. Dr Peter Matheson, and Physicist, Professor Bob Lloyd.
The Flotilla will communicate directly with the drillship requesting that Anadarko halt their drilling operations in New Zealand. Each community leader will outline their reasons for opposing the impending drilling.
“This group of local leaders are here to protect our city, our climate, economy and coastlines from deep sea drilling. Dunedin has the expertise and the capacity to be at the forefront of clean, innovative energy solutions, and that’s what we should be focusing on instead of risky deep sea drilling”, said Oil Free Otago spokesperson, Niamh O’Flynn.
Brendon Flack, Tangata Kaitiaki said “’Our responsibility as kaitiaki is to protect and enhance all of our taonga. It’s not about us, it’s about the future, and if we want a better future oil and gas exploration is not the answer. Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei. For us and those after us.”
The Noble Bob Douglas has just completed their drilling program 110 nautical miles off the coast of Raglan and are expected to arrive in Otago sometime over the next three days to drill in the Canterbury Basin. This will be their second deep sea exploratory well in New Zealand. Exploratory drilling is the riskiest stage of drilling.
“Unless the public protest the insanity of putting ever more carbon into the atmosphere we will be headed into a world that will be radically different from the one we now occupy and one that I personally don’t want to happen,” said Professor Bob Lloyd.
Reverend Peter Matheson said, “Some issues are too serious to be solemn about.Taking to sea against Deep Sea Oil Drilling is as ridiculous as David fronting up to Goliath. Anyone remember who won, by the way?”
The boats taking part in the flotilla include Tiama, skippered by Henk Haazen, and Erehwon, skippered by Invercargill teacher, Carlos Legaz.
The flotilla will set sail on Saturday from Dunedin Harbour.
by Rosemary Penwarden
Published in The Star
“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” was one of my mother’s favourite sayings, a swift reminder of our luck. My mother was our family’s undisputed gift horse. MP Michael Woodhouse thinks Anadarko and Shell are Dunedin’s gift horses. In his recent “MP’s View” he reminds us of our collective luck to have these oil giants circling Otago’s deep oceans.
Mr Woodhouse asked deep sea drilling opponents five questions, admitting that some might consider them facetious but asking them nevertheless. Such dedication to one’s constituents deserves a considered response.
Why do opponents continue to refer to “oil exploration” when they know that if viable deposits are found it will be gas not oil?
Mr Woodhouse may know more than the oil companies, who can’t yet tell what’s in the Canterbury and Great South Basins. We must accept the claim that gas is more likely than oil, but the companies don’t rule out oil, as Mr Woodhouse appears to.
In a Dunedin meeting last year Shell emphasised the benefits of gas as a “green” fossil fuel, but when asked if they would therefore leave any discovered oil in the ground, answered that since they are a profit-making corporation, of course they would be pleased to strike oil. It would, after all, provide a much easier and larger profit than gas.
As for gas being “green”, burning gas releases about 75% the greenhouse gas emissions of crude oil, doing the same damage to the climate in four years that oil does in three. Gas is like the low tar cigarette version of fossil fuels – takes a bit longer but has the same effect in the end.
Is it [Oil Free Otago] opposed to deep sea drilling, any sea drilling, or any drilling whatsoever?
Human-induced climate change is a fact, as Mr Woodhouse appreciates. Of course we can’t suddenly stop using fossil fuels tomorrow. But to delay the transition in a wilfully blind dismissal of reality is only narrowing our grandchildren’s chances of survival.
Opponents of deep sea drilling are choosing to respond to the science. We want progress, using the fossil fuels we can safely use, keeping within the two degree limit of global warming agreed to by the world’s governments, to build a low carbon future.
How does it [Oil Free Otago] reconcile its protest last weekend with the use during the protest of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, petrochemical product-produced kayaks, wetsuits, oars, life jackets and other technologies that re the product of oil and gas extraction?
The argument that it is hypocritical for deep sea drilling opponents to use fossil fuel products diverts us from useful discussion. We all live in the same world. It’s a world that has been maxing out on cheap fossil fuel energy to the point where a limit is now making its presence felt from the Australian tennis open to California’s driest year on record.
While many Oil Free Otago members choose to cycle, drive electric cars and grow our own food, Mr Woodhouse’s government’s policies make a mockery of individual attempts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions trading scheme (ETS) invites the country’s largest polluters to use the atmosphere as a free carbon sewer. Fugitive methane emissions from a newly discovered gas well in the Canterbury Basin would cancel out all the individual emissions reductions of the ‘greenest’ Dunedin residents in one foul swoop.
Oil Free Otago members are calling for change. In the meantime we will happily make use of all fossil-fuel tools and products at our disposal in our opposition deep sea drilling.
How does it [Oil Free Otago] reconcile Green MP Gareth Hughes flying around the country in fossil fuel-powered airplanes protesting against the very thing he relies on to articulate his message?
Until government and policymakers take climate change seriously, beginning with transferring the $46 million subsidy from the fossil fuel industry into clean tech industries, put a realistic price on carbon and begin the other changes needed for a low carbon future, there can be no better use of fossil fuels than to fly Gareth Hughes around the country building the movement against deep sea drilling. Far better that Gareth takes the seat than an oil executive.
What is unethical about a product that the whole world relies on for its social and economic prosperity and is vital for developing countries to grow?
My first suggestion is for church-goers to attend an Anglican service, and discuss with their Anglican colleagues the reason for their decision to divest from fossil fuels. Learn why we have a moral duty to preserve the planet, not only for future generations but for all of creation. If that’s not your thing, try looking at the hard economic facts surrounding the “carbon bubble” and why it is economically irresponsible to invest in fossil fuels long term.
To continue digging up and burning oil, gas and coal in the way Mr Woodhouse’s government intends is to condemn the next generations to an unsurvivable future. Those in developing countries stand to suffer more than us. Unfair but true.
Some of us want to make damn sure our back yard is not contributing to that unsurvivable future. There’s a hell of a lot of work to be done, jobs to be had and money to be made building solutions instead of adding to the problem. Oil Free Otago want to be part of that solution.
The future is in renewable energy jobs and industries, Mr Woodhouse. I can hear my mother now: don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
In late October 2013 the St Martin Island Community Inc erected a NO
DRILL sign on our jetty on Quarantine Island, Otago Harbour. The sign
was provided by Oil Free Otago on our request after we initiated a
meeting between the two groups.
On the 10th January 2014 we were issued with an abatement notice from
the Otago Regional Council to remove the NO DRILL signage from the jetty
on Quarantine Island. We are appealing this abatement notice.
In the abatement notice ORC state that the signage is advertising and
that the coastal permit for the jetty does not allow this, but SMIC
believe the signage provides a prudent safety message.
The RMA legislation is effects based – this signage is all about
reducing our environmental effects’ SMIC spokesperson Francine Vella said.
The St Martin Island Community have lodged an appeal against the
abatement notice with the Environment Court.
Francine Vella on Behalf of the St Martin Island Community Inc,
Quarantine Island, Otago Harbour.
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.
John Wathen is an award winning photo journalist who recently toured Aotearoa recounting his experience both on the ground and in the air documenting the catastrophic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
John flew out over the gulf in a light plane and captured the event as it was unfolding resulting in some amazing footage and images of the worst environmental disaster in America’s history.
His presentation contains some blunt warnings and important lessons for New Zealand as we consider the threat of deep sea oil drilling in our waters in the near future.
The serious business of shopping was interrupted on Saturday by scantily clad oily people at Lush that caught the attention of bemused shoppers – and their other halves.
Oil Free Otago members held the event, in conjunction with Lush, to coincide with World Oceans Day. On World Oceans Day and we wanted to alert Dunedin people that our ocean is at risk. Anadarko, partners in BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, are coming to drill for oil off our coast this summer. Shell are also looking to start deep sea drilling in the Great South Basin soon.While these companies get tax exemptions, government subsidies and almost all the profit, we get all the risk of an oil spill.
What about the jobs and prosperity Anadarko and Shell might bring to Dunedin? Check out last year’s Ministry of Economic Development report (Regional Impacts of a New Oil or Gas Field).This report says it is highly unlikely that companies would invest in onshore infrastructure. They will export the oil and gas directly. We won’t see it unless it washes up on our beaches.
If that happens, we pay for the cleanup. The Rena cost taxpayers $46.9 million, and that was tiny compared to a major oil rig blowout. The Deepwater Horizon disaster has cost Americans $80 billion and rising.
Cleaning up Saturday’s oily people was easy, but the serious business of cleaning up our beaches will cost a lot more than a bar of Lush soap.
A huge thank you to Lush (Dunedin) for their support
This summer Texan oil giant, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, intends to begin their test drilling program in the Canterbury Basin, NZ. The Caravel prospect is located off the coast of Moeraki, and the Carrick prospect is directly off the Otago Peninsula. The global oil giants Shell and OMV are also currently exploring the Great South Basin for new oil and gas reserves (exploration permit PEP 50119) with the intent to extract these resources in the near future, also just off the coast of Dunedin.
– Anadarko had a 25% share in the project that caused the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill, Gulf of Mexico in 2010, spilling over 600,000 tonnes of oil into the sea.
– Shell spilled nearly 14,000 tonnes of crude oil into the creeks of the Niger Delta in 2011.
Deep-sea oil-drilling is of major concern in the Otago region of New Zealand because of the alarming environmental and economic risks that it poses to our people, our climate, and our land and sea. There are currently no adequate protection measures in place to protect our environment from a deep sea oil disaster. Aotearoa stands to gain just 5% of the profits from the drilling, yet we will bear 100% of the risk involved. History tells us that it is only a matter of time before we pay the price. Global oil giants are not welcome to drill in our coastal waters.