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The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, is currently in the South Taranaki Basin to scope out oil and gas rigs owned by Austrian petroleum giant, OMV.
After sailing for 36 hours through the Cook Strait, the Rainbow Warrior reached Māui A platform at dawn this morning.
On board the Greenpeace ship are three representatives from the Taranaki community, Emily Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki, Agnes Wharehoka from Parihaka, and Kura Niwa from Pukerangiora Hapū.
As the Rainbow Warrior arrived at Māui A, Niwa contacted the oil rig and demanded OMV stop its operations immediately.
“We have come here today on behalf of our tamariki and mokopuna and the hundreds of thousands who have spoken to leave fossil fuels in the ground,” she said.
A banner reading “Make OMV History” was also hung from the Rainbow Warrior.
The Rainbow Warrior is currently in New Zealand as part of a national tour to celebrate the Government’s April announcement banning new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, and to canvas clean energy opportunities.
But Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says for some communities in New Zealand, there is still a risk that oil and gas exploration could be a reality for years to come due to existing permits that passed through before the ban.
“Taranaki is one of three areas in New Zealand that is still open to oil and gas companies wanting to exploit dirty energy reserves from under the seabed,” she says.
“This region is also one of only four known breeding and foraging grounds for Blue Whales in the Southern Hemisphere. It is an abomination that anyone would blast and drill in these precious waters for profit.”
The majority of oil and gas rigs off the Taranaki coast are now operated by Austrian oil giant OMV, one of 100 global corporations responsible for over 70% of the world’s climate pollution since 1988. OMV is planning to drill 12 new exploratory wells in Taranaki next year.
A map released by Greenpeace today shows the extent of OMV’s interests and the proximity of its exploration permits to Blue Whale, Southern Right Whale and Māui dolphin habitat.
The company has been aggressively expanding in New Zealand, including buying existing oil and gas permits off Shell, rapidly making it New Zealand’s biggest oil player. The Government’s ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration does not extend to existing permits.
As well as Taranaki, OMV has active oil and gas exploration permits off the Wairarapa Coast and in the Great South Basin. The company has a commitment to drill in the Great South Basin by July 2019.
A week ago, the Government announced it would be introducing an amendment to the Crown Minerals Act to bring the ban on new offshore oil and gas permits into law.
There is now a two-week public consultation process on the amendment, and Greenpeace has launched an online tool enabling members of the public make submissions supporting it.
Greenpeace submits that the law should go further and put an end to existing permits, such as those held by OMV in Taranaki, Wairarapa, and the Great South Basin.