Anadarko oil ship arrives at drill site; protesters unmoved

By APNZ staff, James Russell

SV Vega confronts the Noble Bob Douglas drilling ship on the site where oil giant Anadarko intends to start exploratory drilling for deep sea oil. The drill site is over 100 nautical miles off Raglan,
SV Vega confronts the Noble Bob Douglas drilling ship on the site where oil giant Anadarko intends to start exploratory drilling for deep sea oil. The drill site is over 100 nautical miles off Raglan,

A small boat is refusing to move from the site where Texan oil giant Anadarko intends to drill, despite the presence of the huge drilling ship, called the Noble Bob Douglas, around 600 metres away.

One of the support vessels for the drilling ship, the Hart Tide, is much closer to the flotilla boat, the Vega, which is currently above the drilling spot, which is one and half kilometres under the ocean surface.

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Greenpeace executive director Bunny McDiarmid is onboard the Vega and is hoping to give a children's flag to the drilling ship, which she contacted by radio minutes ago.

She said: "The sailing vessel Vega will not be moving. 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 or belched into their seas.

"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."

Anadarko said the Noble Bob Douglas "was where it needs to be.''

The company's New Zealand manager Alan Seay said they were happy with the ship's location on the water, and were waiting for the 500 metre safety zone to be erected.

"We've got some work to do before we actually start drilling.

"We're where we need to be to do it and we'll see how the situation evolves.

"It's several days now, having got into position, before we're ready to start drilling.

Mr Seay would not be drawn on whether drilling could occur while the protest vessels were within 500m of the Noble Bob Douglas.

"The key thing is that any protest vessels need to keep a safe distance,'' he said.

"At some point, the safety zone will come into effect and they will be required to stay 500 metres away.

When asked why the safety zone had not been implemented, Mr Seay said "some formalities'' still had to be worked through before it could be put in place.

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The Oil Free Seas Flotilla is made up of six boats. They were cheered off by hundreds of New Zealanders from various ports earlier this week.

This Saturday, New Zealanders can show their support for the flotilla by making a banner and getting down to their favourite west coast beach. Further details can be found here.

The Oil Free Seas Flotilla is a loose association of individuals and boat owners who oppose deep-sea drilling and the new legislation that takes away New Zealander's long-standing right to peacefully protest at sea. One of the boats taking part, the Vega, also sailed against French nuclear tests in the Pacific.

Earlier this year, the Government announced a controversial new law to ban aspects of protesting at sea, known as the 'Anadarko Amendment'.

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