Oil Free Otago has established a ''rapid response'' team of
up to 260 people to take to the waters around Otago to hinder
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation's deep-sea drilling
Oil Free Otago spokeswoman Niamh O'Flynn said the team was
established during the Oil Free Future Summit in Dunedin at
the weekend, and hinted it may be used to block the shipping
lane in Otago Harbour to stop Anadarko vessels from using
Dunedin as a servicing port.
The flotilla could also be rallied in the open waters around
Otago's coastline as part of its resistance to the petroleum
The logistics of how their protest would be carried out and
what it would involve were still to be decided, Ms O'Flynn
More than 250 protesters braved wet weather yesterday on the
final day of the summit.
Green MP Gareth Hughes described the weather as ''positively
''It's a cold wet day and we've still got more than 250
people here showing their opposition to Anadarko and risky
deep-sea drilling, and they [Anadarko] can expect further
opposition in the future,'' he said.
Initially, it was intended to send people in boats to block
the shipping lane between Quarantine Island and Goat Island.
But the weather forced some instead to hold anti- drilling
banners on a wharf at Back Beach, in Port Chalmers, while
others took to the water in kayaks.
Ms O'Flynn said the action was a practice run for future
action when Anadarko vessels arrived in Otago.
Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunket declined to comment
on the proposed protest action.
However, Senior Sergeant Steve Aitken, of Dunedin, was
concerned about the safety of the protesters.
''While everyone has the right to protest, they need to
consider the safety of themselves and any other people while
they are doing it.
''Protesting at sea can be dangerous and I would encourage
those participating to ensure they take all safety
The summit was the first of its kind in New Zealand, and
coincided with Anadarko's exploratory deep-sea drilling off
the coast of Raglan.
Anadarko's drill ship Noble Bob Douglas was preparing
to move south next month, where it will begin drilling 60km
from Taiaroa Head.
The summit heard speeches on Saturday from about 16 people,
including Mr Hughes, photo journalist John Wathen, who
photographed the Gulf of Mexico disaster, Dunedin city
councillor Jinty MacTavish, and University of Otago energy
studies director and physics professor Bob Lloyd.
During the conference, it was revealed the Dunedin City
Council held shares in petroleum companies, worth $1.7
The investments account for about 5% of the council's
holdings through the Waipori Fund.
Ms O'Flynn and Mr Hughes said the council should not hold
shares in any company that produces fossil fuels, in the same
way it avoids investing in tobacco and arms companies, and
urged the council to divest its investments in oil companies.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull defended the investments, saying they
were designed to make a return for the benefit of ratepayers.
Cr MacTavish said the council did not have a formal stance on
ethical investment - only that it did not invest in tobacco
or arms companies.
''This is an opportunity for us as a community to have a
conversation about what we collectively feel comfortable
making money from.
''It is important to have this conversation.''
She said a report had been commissioned into ethical
investment opportunities, and it would be discussed by
council later this month.
''My personal feeling is that I'm not very comfortable with
investing in further fossil-fuel exploration.
''I would prefer us to be invested in much more
future-focused industry,'' she said.