This morning, a team of Greenpeace activists were met by an overwhelming police presence at the Port of Taranaki.
Early this morning the Polarcus Alima - a survey vessel chartered by the US oil giant Anadarko - slipped in to the Port of Taranaki.
They no doubt hoped to keep a low profile before embarking on their scheduled assignment to explore for deep sea oil reserves off the coast of Raglan but we cannot let this go unnoticed. This is the pointy end of the looming deep sea oil rush in New Zealand coastal waters.
Greenpeace had a small team there to meet it with a peaceful protest but the police seem unusually interested in preventing anything coming between Anadarko and New Zealand’s promised deep sea oil reserves. How did they know we were coming? We’re not sure. But what is clear is that someone is determined to keep any protest well away from the Polarcus Alima, including the news that they are in town.
John Key was completely wrong when he said there there is no correlation between the Rena oil spill and his Government’s deep sea oil drilling plans. Anyone with even a modicum of common sense can see that.
The Rena has spewed oil into the Bay of Plenty and demonstrated with jarring clarity just how damaging an oil spill can be, and just how impossible it is to prevent the damage once the oil has spilled.
Deep sea oil drilling would expose New Zealand’s coastline to catastrophic oil spills.
So to push ahead with dangerous deep sea oil drilling as oil continues to wash ashore on beaches in the Bay of Plenty adds insult to injury.
If the Anadarko’s survey is successful, the drilling of wildcat oil wells off Raglan could begin as early as next year, in waters possibly even deeper than the Deepwater Horizon Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.
Anadarko were part owners of the ill fated Deepwater Horizon well which leaked 780 million litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico last year. By comparison the Rena spill represents about 2 teaspoonfuls of the bucket that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and we are struggling to deal with even that.
The ship will later go on to prospect in deepwater areas off Stewart Island, a formidable area for weather let alone oil prospecting, in a permit area due to be taken over by Shell Oil.
It’s time for the government to stop spending millions enticing the deep sea oil industry to New Zealand.