30 people, including a team of Greenpeace climbers, have stormed aboard the support vessel for Austrian oil giant OMV’s oil rig at dawn this morning, and some have locked themselves to the ship to stop it leaving port.

The Bahamas-flagged Skandi Atlantic was preparing to leave the Port of Timaru and travel north to meet the 34,000 tonne oil rig commissioned by OMV, now stationed off the coast of Taranaki.

OMV is about to begin drilling three oil wells there, followed by one in the Great South Basin off the Otago coast where it will undertake the riskiest kind of oil drilling,      at extreme depths. 

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says those taking part in the occupation are a broad mix of people and many are prepared to stay overnight.

“By occupying OMV’s henchboat, we’re delaying the monster rig from drilling for new oil in the middle of a climate emergency,” she says. 

“OMV’s oil rig is almost 50 nautical miles off the Taranaki Coast. Its remote location means it’s nearly impossible for ordinary New Zealanders to take peaceful action to confront it directly. 

“We’ve brought the resistance here to disrupt its chain of support. We won’t let this rig carry out its climate-destroying activities quietly, out of sight and mind.”

OMV is one of just 100 companies that have caused over 70% of the world’s climate emissions.

As well as dozens of people occupying the deck of OMV’s support vessel, a team of four climbers, including Austrian Greenpeace activist Magdalena Bischof, have scaled its derrick. 

Larsson says OMV can expect continued resistance from people all over the country while it is operating in New Zealand.

“People are over it. We’re over companies being allowed to search for new oil to burn in the middle of a climate emergency, threatening the lives of millions of people. At every turn, OMV can expect us to be all over them,” she says.

Representatives from a variety of environmental groups are also taking part in the occupation, including Extinction Rebellion, Oil Free Otago, and 350 Aotearoa.

The action follows protests last month outside OMV’s headquarters in Austria, where Māori climate activist, Mike Smith (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu), announced a lawsuit to be filed at the International Criminal Court against OMV’s CEO, Rainer Seele. In the past few days, OMV has also faced protests in Dunedin, Wellington and New Plymouth.   


Contacts in Timaru:

Amanda Larsson, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner: 021-722-794

Sophie Schroder, Greenpeace communications and media: 021-0864-7450

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