Flotilla to take on oil giant Anadarko

Members of Stop Deep Sea Oil flotilla off East Cape, Tuesday April 12, 2011. Photo: Greenpeace/Malcolm Pullman.
Members of Stop Deep Sea Oil flotilla off East Cape, Tuesday April 12, 2011. Photo: Greenpeace/Malcolm Pullman.

The Oil Free Seas flotilla will confront a Texan oil company's drilling ship over 100 nautical miles off the North Island's west coast in the coming weeks.

The flotilla will set sail in the next few days from Auckland, Wellington, Kaikoura, Bay of Islands and Bluff, and will head to the drilling site, which is 110 nautical miles west of Raglan.

Texan oil company Anadarko is due to start drilling around the middle to the end of November, using the previously untested drill ship the Nobel Bob Douglas.

The flotilla, made up of seven boats, is a loose association of individuals and boat owners who oppose deep-sea drilling and the new legislation that takes away New Zealanders' 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.

"We love New Zealand, and this country is what it is because kiwis have stood up for what we believe in. I was on board the SV Vega protesting against French nuclear testing in the Pacific in the 70s. Nuclear testing in the Pacific wasn't right and deep-sea oil drilling in the Tasman is not right either. We will not be bullied into submission by big oil or dubious laws," said Anna Horne of Oil Free Seas Flotilla.

Earlier this year, the Government announced a new law to ban aspects of protesting at sea. It states 'that it is illegal to interfere with any structure or ship that is in an offshore area that is to be used in mining activities, with an exclusion zone of 500 metres.'

"By being there we are saying to Anadarko that they are not welcome here doing this kind of activity. This law suits the suits, but not the environment and the wishes of the people of New Zealand," says Horne.

The Oil Free Seas flotilla will depart from ports around New Zealand from Friday.

Friday, November 8 at 2:00pm from Bluff (City Wharf)
Monday, November 11 at 12noon from both Auckland (Princess Wharf) and Kaikoura (Fisherman's Wharf)
Tuesday, November 12 at 12noon from the Bay of Islands (Opua)
Thursday, November 14 at 10:00am from Wellington (Queens Wharf)

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