Statoil Offices Boarded Up

This morning Greenpeace activists barricaded shut Statoil’s new Wellington office before the Norwegian oil giant has fully opened for business.

And the reason: to send a very clear message to Norway that New Zealanders don’t want Statoil here drilling for deep sea oil, putting our environment and economy at risk.

Activists blocked the entry by adding extra locks to the front door and boarding it up with planks and a sign reading ‘Go Home Statoil’. The sign, featuring Maori motifs, was designed by members of Northland iwi that are opposed to deep sea oil exploration off their coast.

Today’s action comes a day after Energy and Resources minister Simon Bridges opened up vast new areas of our ocean (including maui’s dolphin habitat) and forest parks to oil drilling. Statoil has picked up 4 new permits: 1 more off the coast of Northland and 3 more in the Pegasus Basin, just off the capital’s shores.

The Wellington permits are to be shared with notorious oil giant Chevron, who have a disastrous environmental record. Even the government has conceded it’s “not perfect”, which is putting it mildly. Chevron's environmental impact in Ecuador rivals Shells impact in Nigeria.

Chevron is fighting charges for a huge oil spill off the coast of Brazil in 2011 and is currently locked in a legal battle with the Ecuadorian government after refusing to clean up 70 billion litres of toxic liquids they dumped in Amazon rainforest.

Chevron has sued Ecuador to overturn a decision of the domestic courts after 18 years of legal action, to award $18 billion in damages to clean up its toxic contamination of the Amazon basin … Chevron didn't like what the local courts decided, so went to an international tribunal instead, as is allowed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). (This is the sort of thing New Zealand could be exposed to if we sign the TPPA but that’s whole other blog).

Simon Bridges claims that he won’t allow cowboys to operate in our waters. But if it walks like a cowboy, talks like a cowboy, acts like a cowboy and plays fast and loose like a cowboy: It is a cowboy.

And what would be so laughable, if it wasn’t so tragic, is that this announcement came the same day an independent report, released at the global climate talks in Peru, shamed New Zealand for having a “poor” record on climate action - and typoon Hagupit still raged across the Phillipines.

When is this government going to draw the dots between burning oil and gas, and climate change?

But the madness doesn’t stop there.

Exploring for oil may also affect whales and dolphins. Two weeks ago, Statoil started seismic testing in the deep waters off Northland’s coast looking for signs of oil.

Whale

To better understand the impacts that seismic testing has on marine mammals, a Greenpeace-sponsored yacht - SV Vega – has set sail to take an independent scientific crew to the zone where Statoil are searching for oil. It is research that the government failed to do before it started issuing permits to big oil companies like Statoil to come here.

Oil exploration takes place because oil companies want to drill, which comes with the risk of an oil spill, which would be catastrophic for our coastlines and our local communities. It is a risk we do not need to take.

New Zealand has a rich history of developing clean energy. We could create many tens of thousands of jobs, give the economy a multi-billion dollar boost and reduce our dependence on oil. The oil industry can’t even come close to matching these figures.

And the win-win would be that we play a leading role in delivering the climate solutions that the world needs and at home we will build a cleaner, smarter future for all New Zealanders.

So Statoil, please take a hint and go home.