Flotilla to hinder drilling

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 operations.

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 giant.

The logistics of how their protest would be carried out and what it would involve were still to be decided, Ms O'Flynn said.

More than 250 protesters braved wet weather yesterday on the final day of the summit.

Green MP Gareth Hughes described the weather as ''positively vile''.

''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 precautions.''

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 million.

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.


Think about it

I suggest those who think people living in today's society can protest against fossil fuel exploration without using any fossil fuel-based products should try protesting against increasing taxes without paying any tax or using the facilities taxes pay for. Some things are not a matter of individual choice when it comes to living as part of a society ... and I'm certain you would respect the protesters even less if they were living outside society. No more silly arguments or accusations please.

Google is your conspiracy vendor

"I have just been reading a long list of complaints that Fracking has caused in four US States. Seems everything from earthquakes, to contaminated water to gas coming out of their taps are mentioned. Google it and see for yourself," writes Maria Aiau. I'm surprised that plagues of locusts didn't come out of their taps, and streams of orange Jello from their electricity sockets. The earthquakes are true, sort of. Take a look at the quake records for NZ. There are hundreds of tiny quakes every day, quakes that nobody would have noticed until seismographic recording technology made it possible to log them. Naturally in a place where something different happens - fracking in this case - people look for signs of terrible consequences and naturally, human nature being what it is, they find it. The things that had happened for years without causing a moment's concern suddenly became important. Not only important, but frightening confirmation that "meddling around with our Planet" was an invitation to Doom. And while in the mood for Googling, "confirmation bias" is an interesting thing to learn about.

Oh my Goodness, I am surprised

I can hardly believe the number of people here writing in support of drilling off our coast.

Oil is running out, we have to find alternatives. We only have one planet here, and we can not afford to keep risking our Oceans.

I have just been reading a long list of complaints that Fracking has caused in four US States. Seems everything from earthquakes, to contaminated water to gas coming out of their taps are mentioned. Google it and see for yourself.

A major accident here would be an absolute disaster, so I am guessing all the supporters here will be the first to put their hand up, and pay for the clean up, should one occur.

I also drive a car, use a computer, etc, etc, but I also know we have to find a better way. And with change comes new ideas, which will create new jobs. People need to think outside the square a little bit more, and stop depending on the same old, same old things.

These protestors have my full support, I want my grandchildren to inherit a planet, that they and future generations will be able to live a quality life on. There are some things that are worth fighting for, and our Planet is my top priority.

Open you eyes and use your brain

Open you eyes and use your brain, they were not protesting oil, it was a protest against the exploitation of New Zealand. The off-shore oil barrons are treating New Zealand as any other third world country that they come across, Barge in, steal the riches, leave their mess behind and move on to the next sucker. Our government should be ashamed for selling us out, but most will be gone in a few years, just like our resources and pristine environment, but what are a few penguins and sea lions when we can reward a few billionaires.

We are all hypocrites

We are all hypocrites. Such personal attacks and name calling, however, do nothing to illuminate either the problems or the solutions.

The linkages and reality of the accelerating fossil-fuel-induced climate emergency and globally decreasing fossil fuel EROEI (energy return on energy invested) presents unprecedented challenges. I think Richard Heinberg summarizes it well:

"Fortunately, there is one element of simplicity in all this complexity...and that is what we must do: As a global society, we must reduce our dependency on fossil fuels as quickly as possible. It is the only realistic answer both to climate change and our economic vulnerability to declining fossil fuel resource quality and EROEI. This is literally humanity's project of the century, probably the most important in all of history. It is an enormous challenge, but it is not optional. Either we break the addiction, or we suffer the consequences-which would impact not only ourselves, but future generations as well."

The logical conclusion to the drilling debate, at least for those who properly understand the science and logic behind both climate risk and EROEI decline is simple: Unless someone will guarantee and ensure that ALL the revenue from this endeavour would go to investments in renewable energy, and I doubt anyone can, the (potential) fossil fuels should stay in the ground. The only way to ensure this is not to conduct the exploration. Otherwise, these are by any measure, ill-begotten and quite clearly unethical potential riches; benefiting a few for sure, but at unacceptable cost to the many and our common future.

Oil exploration

There has been oil and gas extracted from the Tasman Sea for 45 years off the Taranaki coast without a spill. This is scare mongering from the lunatic fringe. How hypocritical to claim they have no other option but to use oil derived products, and oil powered vehicles when this is the future these protesters would have us consigned to. I acknowledge their right to protest however the majority of us that support exploration and investment in Otago also have the right to have our opinions heard.

There were twice as many

There were twice as many people behind the cameraman as there was in front. As far wealth and jobs, these will mostly go elsewhere. Off-shore drilling is highly specialised and very risky, the gulf of mexico has been devastated by the same company  that is attempting to exploit our coastline. The Deep Water horizon was exploratory as well.  If oil is so valuable, maybe we should hold on to it for a while longer then it will be even more valuable, and perhaps the technology will be more reliable. Is short term gain really worth the long term loss of our pristine marine environment?

What a huge turnout

Must be a really important situation for 260 people to protest about considering our population of 120 odd thousand people.

Look, no one's arguing their right to protest, no one's arguing that continued oil extraction and use is likely not good for the planet. No one's arguing that in the slight chance of a mishap, the will be repercussions.

If there was a viable alternative to oil, currently available, we would all be happy to use it. But there isn't. Until the time arrives that there is an alternative, the whole world needs oil.

If there's a chance of finding gas/oil, Dunedin as a whole needs to embrace all the possibilities in relation to employment and servicing the industry. Any money the government receives for royalties must also be beneficial to all New Zealanders. 

If we don't act and secure a base for them here, Invercargill will beat us too it. Maybe ask yourselves why Tim has been Mayor in Invercargill for so long. Might be to do with embracing change and pushing their city forward for the benefit of its citizens.


Well put

To Geg-Thomas, your comment was well written and made many fine observations about the attitudes expressed elsewhere.

Drilling bigger than products

I congratulate all those here making their smug comments about the protestors equipment, cars, clothing etc being plastic/made from oil. Well done!...on the standard apathetic response.

For starters, they were protesting against where the oil rig will go, the environmental impact it will have and the environmental disaster that could come of it.

And it'll bring extra money, extra jobs & tax cuts? WIll you be happy when there's a spill off our coastline and it'll be us stuck with the bill? If you think the oil company will take the hit then you're naive.

It seems people can't see the bigger picture. They're happy being spoon fed everything. "Oh my car runs on oil so we need it. Plastic is made from oil so we need it. We need oil at all costs". Are you so blind you can't see we need to shift our reliance on oil? I guess since oil won't run out until after most of these people are dead they won't care. They'll happily put in 100 dollars worth of fuel at the gas station and not think twice.

When the oil does run out, or when we have a major disaster off our coasts, our children will ask 'if they knew it was so bad, why didn't they change anything?' and the answer will be, when they look at public opinion of the time: 'I needed oil for my car to go the shop to buy my plastic Highlanders raincoat'. Apparently this is more important than our earth and the future for our children. What heroes these armchair apathetics will be seen as! 250 people decide that this is not the future they want, and this is cause for criticism and major derision. 'haha aren't they stupid protesting oil in their oil based products!' Thousands, millions, will silently do as they're told by companies, corporations and governments and they're 'in the right' because 'it's a good thing for the economy' and 'everything uses oil so why fight it?'

I feel saddened by the comments here. They make enough effort to put down these protestors but they'll never get off their feet to make an effort to break their reliance on a limited resource. For shame.

The morons are at it again!

What a laugh... all those anti oil protesters promoting oil based products like there is no tomorrow!

Where do they think their PVC protest signs come from? The parkas life jackets and wet suits they wear? The soles of their shoes? The PE and fiber glass kayaks, surfboards and boats with their plastic paddles they are on and in??

How did they get to this protest... by oil fueled vehicles one suspects.

Oil, oil, oil . . . Currently its a fact of life and until we come up with an alternative that is what we have and must use. Maybe if these protesters spent some time looking for alternatives rather than protesting in such a hypocritical fashion as they are, things could change.



Yes, Form a we are in favour of investment group

We should kick out these social claimers that don't have proper jobs but lots of time.

Let's not invite The Mayor though.


Drilling protest

Reading some of the comments here makes me realise just who the "muppets" really are. Unless I am mistaken, New Zealanders still have a right to protest (despite the current Govt's shady GCSB dealings). Good on these people for having the guts to question the logic of having foreign owned companies march in and fleece us - not only environmentally (both short term and long term) but also economically (since the profits from any venture are not going to end up in Dunedinites' pockets). It seems all it takes for the spineless morons of this town to roll over is the promise of a few jobs and "riches for all". Yeh, right - heard it all before when they built the White Elephant stadium. And B.T.W. what do you expect people participating in this protest to travel in in a world which has refused to develop practical alternatives? The real muppets can go back to their daytime T.V. and wait for their "gold rush".

No surprises there then

Yet again we are subjected to the opinions of the loopy fringe. I was blown away by the sheer hypocrisy shown by our green warriors.

Take for example the wonderful show of small watercraft in the image, with the exception of the stunning row boat in the foreground all of the others are made from products which will include oil. This is also true for the floatation vests some are wearing, the wetsuits and clothing worn and most certainly the vehicles used to get to and from the protest.

In addition to all of this is the paltry turnout, estimated at over 250 people (approx 50 in the image)- Dunedin's population according to the last census is something like 126,000. Apparently the vast majority of Dunedin people don't support the protesters' view.

Since the protesters have no problem using products manufactured from or with oil perhaps they can explain why future Kiwi's shouldn't have the same benefits. 


Not much more to add really.

If Lucy Lawless, dressed as Xena, chained herself to an anchor, submerged in the harbour for over 6 hours, and still survived, then that would be interesting.

White middle class guilt alleviation feel good group

Just another white middle class guilt alleviation feel good group. Where are these people when you need volunteers to solve the multiple social problems in some of our hard to reach communities?

But oh no, that would require getting your hand dirty and having to be in close proximity with the salt of the earth.

think about this

Each of the vehicles in the car park probably held about 5 Litres of Oil, meaning about 30 cars (as counted from various sources) made a total of 150. If that were to be spilled you would have enough to cover that little beach where they were situated. And clearly the ones with political hats (that the public has every right to scrutinize) on made a flight down from the North Island as well as another willing to make flights in the future with burning fuels to add to global warming, not so clean and green after all. Not to mention the PVC banners, plastic boats (I won't get too silly with this!) etc.
Another point -Contrary to the argument of the protestors, I also though that Anadarko were going for gas also?

This has made the front page today but some have already questioned the authenticity of the number count, whether it's 100 (approx. 30 cars with 3-4 people approx.) or "260" it's still a minority compared with the rest of the population that want opportunities and jobs and a minor percentage compared with the neurosurgery turnout.

We're all doomed!

If this wasn't so serious it would be funny.

Greenies in plastic macs, paddling plastic boats, holding plastic signs protesting against fossil fuel. Driving to the protest in vehicles made by and powered by fossil fuels. I wonder how they heat and light their houses. Pathetic really.

Sensible Dunedin people need to find a way to drown out these perpetual whingers , otherwise we risk losing the biggest opportunity for Otago since gold was found.

Anyone fancy a counter protest next time the tree huggers get together?


Did anyone from the ODT count how many were there. From the photos I'd figure about 100. This issue is far too important to be relying on figures provided by these activists ,who are seem set on preventing  our local economy growing and the wealth and jobs that could be provided by this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Comfortable middle-class left-wing views

There were probably not a lot of people who would gain financial benefit from the new industry for Dunedin protesting yesterday. It is a job for comfortable middle-class lefties who are probably employed, one way or another, on the public payroll, or not employed at all.

Why do so many kiwis fear economic development? And what are these " future-focused industries" Cr McTavish speaks of? What a load of tosh. This is the same rubbish that gets trotted out about supposed green jobs; seen any of these lately? Big employers are they?

The Mayor of Dunedin is indifferent to the development; the ODT is lukewarm at best; and there is a community of people in Dunedin with nothing better to do than get a warm inner glow from protesting. Just agree to have Invercargill be the base for this economic activity and be done with it. There is no contest. Invercargill wants it; let Invercargill have it without any auction between the cities.


well done oil free Otago, the photo with the protestor had it right-"No deep Sea Oil" absolutely 100% correct because it's gas they are drilling for.

Cr McTavish paid by ratepayers-- should be asked to resign from her position as councillor. She is protesting on an issue that is out of the control of local authorities. She is also protesting against an industry that will bring 100's of millions of dollars to the local economy.

Stand up Otago-- don't allow a few protestors who are disingenuous with the facts to de-rail what will be an economic boom for the local economy for the next 50 years.

Stand Up Otago rate-payers fight for this oppurtunity, in the meantime we should be asking Councillor McTavish to consider her role as a councillor. 

Of course none of these people use cars

Of course none of these people use cars, and MP Gareth Hughes travelled to Dunedin on horseback, after crossing Cook Straight in a solar powered canoe.

Not to mention their tax payer funded unemployment benefits, or salaries paid for by a modern economy which is dependent on fossil fuels.

So they are protesting oil

So they are protesting Oil Drilling while sitting in boats made from petrochemicals and wearing clothes made from petrochemicals. Probably drove there in a car burning oil, or rode a bike, made using petrol.

The breakfast they had before going out? Probably got to the supmarket using oil, and also probably harvested/made using petrol? 

Those protest signs look to made of petrochemicals too. So in reality this is a protest supporting the use of oil? 

I hope they get charged

I hope they get charged to the max if they go anywhere near the company's boats. We need this industry for our future.

oh here they go

250 people protesters - is that all they could muster out of the thousands living in the Dunedin area.

Wonder how many are out of work and drive cars and uses plastics.



Fair enough if they want to protest at the port but to blockade legally and safely they will need a boat larger than the one Anadarko uses in order to have right of way (assuming there aren't rules on parking in the boat lanes). Otherwise they leave themselves open to a legal can of worms, especially if it somehow endangers either themselves or anyone else. I only know the basics of marine navigation but I understand it's fairly simple. 

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