Noble Bob Douglas



Talk to Wednesday Group, St Clair. 16 April 2014.

In his best-seller, The Old Ways, a brilliant evocation of the tracks, drove-roads and ancient paths that crisscross Britain, Robert Macfarlane talks of the cognitive dissonance that occurs when one moves from one landscape to another, the shock of realization that one is about to enter a new world.

Nearer to home one thinks of the dramatic transition at Makarora from Central’s spare mountains and lakes to the rainforest on the West Coast.

Suddenly one is in another world.

Metaphorically speaking the controversy about Deep Sea Drilling highlights exactly that. For such abrupt transformations are the stuff of history. Yet this metaphorical crossing of boundaries is invariably accompanied by plunging despair and elated anticipation in almost equal proportions. The deep-sea drilling debate triggered both delight and fury.

When we went out a month or so ago on that little yacht of ours to confront the Noble Bob Douglas that floating monstrosity, our Maori kaitiaki from Karitane raised the key question: “To whom do you think these seas belong?” Has a Texan oil company the right to block access to the traditional sailing paths of the people of the land? Are all the resources of the earth available to the highest bidder, do future generations have a say in the integrity of creation?

Deep Sea Oil drilling is only a symptom of infinitely wider ecological issues. Just last week the UN’s latest report re-emphasised that unless dramatic political initiatives are taken within the next decade the 2 % increase in global warming will trigger irreversible change. We already have in previously located oil and gas reserves more than 5 times enough to exceed this 2%. What madness is this, prospecting for more? It is our madness. There is scant point blaming the politicians. Both in developed and developing countries politicians will never act until their people get the message that the present growth in consumption is unsustainable.

So far, then, there is precious little cognition and the dissonance is limited to the radical minority. We have only the narrowest window of opportunity to convince middle New Zealand that we are on a course to disaster. Yet there are more encouraging signs elsewhere. I just returned from a month in Germany. Everywhere you see fields or roofs covered with solar panels, forests of windmills; utilisation of energy from rubbish disposal: the so-called Energiewende.

However the rather hysterical reactions in Dunedin to the possibility of a discovery of oil or gas shows how few in the business community (or in the comfortable suburbs) think beyond immediate profit. Some of the populist opposition we met was totally bizarre. How can cyclists, we were asked, who need to lubricate their bikes, oppose oil?

So how do we shift opinion in middle New Zealand? Because this is not just a matter for some enlightened academics, for the Greens, for the churches, for the soft edge, so to speak, of public opinion. All of us, not least parents and grandparents need to start thinking in terms of the long stretch of a sustainable future, not immediate advantages in the next election.

We in middle New Zealand need a revolution in our cognition, in our use of energy and of consumable resources. We need to think globally. We depend economically on China and India, but our appetite for their exports products are only affordable because of environmentally catastrophic policies. In exchange, we export to them our bad conscience about pollution.

All our evasions and denials all point to cognitive dissonance. We are scared rigid at the prospect of entering a new world, a new landscape, and so we shrug off the revolution in thinking and in action, which is imperative. We are up against huge vested interests of course. When the little St Martin Island Community put up a sign on the jetty opposing drilling we were accused of advertising and threatened with legal action, which would have bankrupted it. We talk democracy and free speech in this country but the reality is the totalitarianism of the market. (German young people asked their parents in the 1960’s and 1970’s what they did in the Nazi era. What will our grandchildren ask of us?)

There are immediate things we can do. Press the DCC, our churches, all the groups we belong to, to disinvest from oil. Small actions kindle bigger ones. During the dark days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland the slogan was coined: “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Think positively! The Peace Movement in this country also acted locally (Nuclear Free Zones) in order to be effective globally. Jeremiads get us nowhere. Utopian initiatives, little experiments, point to a possible and richer future. We are on the cusp of a new way of being human.

Discussion after the talk focused on why we refuse as a society to listen to what the scientists are saying. One reason suggested was the profound fear just under the surface that there is nothing ahead of us but catastrophe, so avert your eyes! Another was the vested interest of those currently profiting from the madness. (Why were electric cars removed from production?) Another was the dearth of credible political leadership.
Others pointed out that there is huge energy out there, human energy for change, just waiting to be tapped, among which are many young people. But also among their parents’ generation, are those who currently hold the levers of power. To reach them, the middle New Zealand, this is the challenge we face!

Torea’s Message to Anadarko OFO Flotilla 2014-02-09

“Tōrea Scott-Fyffe, local Dunedin youth, challenges Anadarko’s Exploratory Drill Shop the Noble Bob Douglas as they arrive at the deep-sea-drilling site off the coast of Otago. Tōrea represents the next generations who demand a liveable future, which is part an clean-energy industry that provides more jobs globally and does not contribute to irreversible climate change.”

(Video 1 of 5 by Richard Simkins)

Adios Anadarko!

Adios Anadarko poster final copy

It’s party time! We are delighted to celebrate the departure of Texan giant Anadarko’s drill ship, Noble Bob Douglas, from our shores. They left empty handed – a huge win for the climate, our oceans and our campaign. Anadarko left with a very strong message from New Zealanders that we don’t want them here.
It’s been a busy summer with flotillas, summits, protests on the beaches and non-stop campaigning alongside the other oil free groups up and down the country. Our Ready Response unit made the news big time!
Now with the election looming it’s time to highlight the stupidity of the government’s fossil fuel agenda and bring in leaders who will make the transition to a lucrative green economy.

But don’t take down your signs, there’s plenty more campaigning to come with Shell and others on the horizon and the new block offers just announced. But for now, let’s take a night off to celebrate local resistance to deep sea oil and to look forward to a positive year ahead and our next win!

ADIOS ANADARKO! Don’t come back now, hear?

Press Release: Otago Flotilla Comes Face to Face with Anadarko Drillship

Oil Free Seas Flotilla, Oil Free Otago

Noble Bob Douglas and SV Baltazar off Raglan coast 2013

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.

Press Release – Otago community leaders set sail in protest of deep sea drilling

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.