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OMV New Zealand support vessel Skandi Atlantic had been due to set sail last night but was boarded by about 30 people, including some protesters who travelled from Dunedin, about 5am yesterday.
Oil Free Otago member Rosemary Penwarden, who spoke yesterday afternoon while locked to a pipe with another protester, said there was no security around the boat at PrimePort Timaru and protesters had walked along the gangway.
Six pairs of people were locked to metal pipes on the deck of the ship — which police would have to drill through to remove — and others were protesting in the moorings or had climbed the mast.
Protesters had brought food and provisions and were planning at least an overnight stay, some with tents. She was using a sleeping bag to keep out of the wind, she said.
Among protesters were students, senior lecturer at the University of Otago Prof Ralph Adler, an architect and a mental health worker. Members of groups 350.org, Greenpeace, Oil Free Otago and Extinction Rebellion were involved in the environmental action.
Austrian company OMV is about to begin drilling three oil wells off the coast of Taranaki, followed by one in the Great South Basin off the Otago coast this summer, at a cost of about $80million.
Fellow protester University of Otago graduate Jack Brazil said the captain had told protesters to leave in the morning.
"We are just going to delay [the boat’s departure] as long as we can," he said.
PrimePort chief executive Phil Melhopt said yesterday afternoon police had trespassed the "unwelcome" protesters from the boat and he had trespassed them from the wider port area, an injunction they had taken no notice of.
"The sooner they leave the better."
The protest had not impeded port operations, he said.
Police did not answer questions about whether protesters might be removed by force.
In Dunedin on Friday, anti-oil protesters simulated a mock gas drilling in the Octagon.
Oil Free Otago and Extinction Rebellion members, in high-vis vests and hard hats, dug a hole in the grass of the Octagon to protest OMV’s plan to drill in the Great South Basin.
A crowd held signs and shouted at the group to stop.
Eventually, the group stopped digging and placed a tree in the hole instead.
The tree was removed and the grass replaced afterwards.
A police spokeswoman said there were no arrests or issues.