An oil exploration ship at the centre of a storm of controversy for its seismic blasting agenda earlier this year in New Zealand is on its way back.
The Schlumberger owned Amazon Warrior, the world’s largest seismic exploration ship, is just two days away from the South Taranaki Bight, where it plans to seismic blast for oil right in the middle of blue whale habitat.
It will be searching for oil on behalf of Austrian oil giant, OMV.
Greenpeace climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says the Government still has a chance to reject the ship’s oil exploration application.
“Although the Amazon Warrior is heading straight for us, the Government has not yet approved Schlumberger’s request to seismic blast across almost 20,000 square kilometres of the Taranaki Basin. There is still time to turn this ship around, but they must do it urgently,” she says.
“We understand Schlumberger is proposing up to three months of constant blasting, every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day. The impacts on blue whales in this area are likely to be torturous, interfering with their communication and feeding.
“As well as the harmful impacts on marine life, science tells us we can’t afford to burn most of the fossil fuel reserves we know about if we’re to have a chance at stabilising our climate. Searching for new oil makes zero sense.
“Jacinda Ardern says climate change is her generation’s nuclear free moment. Going nuclear free meant stopping the nuclear ships. Taking action on climate change means stopping the oil ships. We’d like to see the Prime Minister back up her bold words with strong action.”
Renowned marine ecologist, Dr Leigh Torres, recently released underwater recordings taken from the South Taranaki Bight that capture seismic blasting from an oil exploration ship drowning out the calls of a blue whale. She compared the blasting to a nail gun going off in your kitchen every eight seconds for months on end.
Simcock says the Amazon Warrior should prepare for public resistance when it enters New Zealand waters.
It faced mass opposition last summer as it searched for oil on behalf of Statoil, Chevron, and OMV off the Wairarapa Coast. Thousands signed petitions, crowdfunded a boat to confront it at sea, and sent emails of complaint to Statoil and Chevron. East Coast iwi, Ngāti Kahungunu, sent their voyaging waka, Te Matau a Māui, to deliver a message on behalf of more than 80 hapū of Te Ikaroa.
In April, Greenpeace activists, including Executive Director Dr Russel Norman and volunteer Sara Howell, swam in front of the Amazon Warrior 60 nautical miles out to sea, stopping it from seismic blasting for the day.
The activists and Greenpeace were charged by the oil division of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), under the 2013 Amendment to the Crown Minerals Act known as the ‘Anadarko Amendment’. They face a year in jail and up to $300,000 in collective fines.
They have pleaded Not Guilty and will face trial in April next year.