OMV, I demand that you stop oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, and give up your drilling permits here immediately.
2019 will go down in history as the year that together we took on Austrian oil giant OMV.
From scaling their office building in Wellington to occupying their henchboat: we’ve made it hard for OMV to ignore the fact that Kiwis don’t want their dirty oil drilling in our waters. We’re in the midst of a climate emergency and it’s clear that this is no time to be drilling for new oil and gas.
Here’s a closer look at how we disrupted business as usual for OMV in 2019:
January – November: We knew we couldn’t do it alone, so we put out a call for people to join us. In major cities across New Zealand, people from all walks of life join Greenpeace for a series of peaceful civil disobedience trainings, learning the history of non-violent protest in Aotearoa and around the world.
23rd July: Two bold climbers scale the Majestic Centre in Wellington, home of Austrian oil giant OMV’s Wellington offices.The climb to OMV’s 21 floor HQ took them 10 hours but they delivered a clear message, and and invitation for New Zealanders to join us there again to Evict OMV. OMV promptly shut their blinds, no doubt hoping we’d go away.
14th August: Those same climbers, joined by dozens of Wellingtonians, confront OMV again with brightly coloured signs and the signatures of over 30,000 people calling for OMV to quit oil drilling in Aotearoa’s waters.
October 2019: Activists in Austria stood in solidarity with New Zealand, constructing a giant whale sculpture outside OMV’s Austrian office and calling on OMV to give up their permits to drill in Aotearoa’s waters.
Maori activists Hinekaa Mako and Mike Smith joined them and announced legal proceedings in the International Criminal Court against Rainer Seele, OMV’s CEO, saying oil company executives deserve to stand trial for climate crimes impacting indigenous communities now and in the future.
November: Local groups across New Zealand took action on beaches near them, calling on OMV to leave Aotearoa’s waters and showing their peaceful resistance across our land.
24th November: Almost 30 people, from grandparents to students, builders to health professionals, board OMV’s oil rig support vessel, the Skandi Atlantic, in Port Timaru. The ‘henchboat’ was due to depart to join OMV’s monster 34,000 tonne oil rig off the coast of Taranaki to hunt for new oil and gas. By climbing the ship’s mast and mooring lines, locking on to parts of the vessel and camping on board, the protesters occupy the henchboat and stop it going anywhere.
26th November: Over 55 hours after they began the occupation, the last climbers are removed from the mast of the Skandi Atlantic by police. Local supporters send their well wishes (and delicious baking) as the exhausted but happy protesters head off for a shower and a snooze.
27th November: A small, committed crew of people from the Skandi Atlantic occupation hop in a minivan and race up the country to meet the Skandi in Taranaki. Along the way they’re reminded of what’s at risk if an oil spill were to happen, with sightings of playful seals and majestic whales.
2nd December: Over 100 people representing School Strike 4 Climate, Extinction Rebellion, Oil Free local groups and concerned communities blockade OMV’s Taranaki headquarters in New Plymouth. With banners, tents, songs and friends, they set up camp in the wind and rain to show OMV they’re not welcome in Aotearoa’s waters. No sign of the Skandi Atlantic.
4th December: Three days after they began the blockade of OMV’s office, protesters wrap things up with a joyful dance under sunny skies, having cost OMV over 900 working days while their 300 workers couldn’t access the office. See you next time, OMV! Oh, and still no sign of the Skandi Atlantic.
5th December: But wait, there’s more. Just when OMV thought things were all over, we surprise them with a Museum of Oil History, right on their doorstep, relegating OMV and its dirty oil drilling to history.
We can’t underestimate the impact this has had on oil giant OMV – not only the delays, but knowing how much resistance they face in New Zealand.
This sustained action against OMV follows a decade of opposition to oil from iwi, hapū, rangatahi, local communities and people like you. Oil companies Chevron, Statoil and Shell all saw they weren’t wanted and left New Zealand’s waters. This is what people power can achieve.
No matter how you’ve been involved with the actions to take on OMV, we couldn’t have done it without you. By working together, we can make real change. As the climate crisis intensifies, we know there’s still more to do.