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Greenpeace sailors protest drillers in the Tasman Sea

by Greenpeace/Sail-World Cruising on 22 Nov 2013
Dwarfed by the drill ship - Greenpeace sailors hold their position SW
The Greenpeace sailing boat is dwarfed by the size of the ships around it, but it's not going anywhere any time soon.

In the continuing standoff between the drillers and the sailors, the Noble Bob Douglas drillship has moved into position in the Tasman Sea over an exploratory well off the coast of the New Zealand and will continue with its planned drilling operations, despite the continued presence of the encroaching Greenpeace protest sailing boat.


A spokesman for Anadarko New Zealand told reporters that the SV Vega remained within 500 meters of the drillship, but plans are moving forward to begin drilling late on Thursday or early Friday.

'We are going about our business. We are getting ready to start drilling in a day or two. They can’t hold a position. They are a sail boat,' Anadarko’s corporate affairs manager Alan Seay said.

An update from Greenpeace NZ says that Bailey Tide OSV allegedly used its thrusters to push the SV Vega off location, allowing for the drillship to move in, but the sailboat remains within the 500 meter exclusion and will stay there.

The protest, apparently still in its early stages, is reminiscent of the September standoff between the Arctic Sunrise Greenpeace ship and a Russian drilling rig in the Pechora Sea, which resulted in the arrest of 30 activists who were originally charged with piracy. Unlike that incident however, the Greenpeace activists have not attempted to board the Noble Bob Douglas drillship, yet, and it’s not the Russian arctic.

Greenpeace New Zealand’s executive director Bunny McDiarmid is on board the small sailing boat 100 nautical miles off the west coast of New Zealand while looking to interfere with the operations of 100,000 ton Anadarko-contracted drillship.

In a press statement Tuesday from Greenpeace, the organization said that McDiarmid, onboard the SV Vega, along with a flotilla of other activists, are currently refusing to move from the site where the Noble Bob Douglas drillship, just a few hundred meters away, intends to drill a well for the Texas-based oil giant Anadarko.

The Greenpeace statement indicates that activists may try to board the drillship to deliver a flag.

'The sailing vessel Vega will not be moving,' said McDiarmid. 'We will stay where we are in defence of our ocean, in defence of future generations, in defence of climate. We have onboard a flag made by children that says ‘I love my beach’. These children don’t want oil slopping onto their beaches.'

'We’re here to deliver this children’s flag to Anadarko’s massive, untested drilling ship. Anadarko have consistently ignored New Zealand. They, and the government, have hidden vital information from the people of New Zealand. So let’s see if they’ll ignore our children.'

The protest comes following a new law in New Zealand that seeks to criminalize certain aspects of peaceful protests at sea, which Greenpeace has dubbed as the 'Anadarko Amendment'.

The location of the well is about 100 nautical miles off Raglan, on the west coast of New Zealand, in waters about one mile deep.
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