The first flotilla boat opposing deep sea oil drilling S/V Infinity encountered the seismic testing ship Orient Explorer in the Raukumara Basin at around 16:45 yesterday, a little over 24 hours since the deep sea oil exploration vessel left Tauranga. Infinity made radio contact with the ship and has been following and observing it since then.
Dayle Takitimu of te Whanau a Apanui says, “Petrobras came to our iwi and asked for our support for their oil drilling in our waters and we told them we did not support it, we don’t want it to happen, and they were not welcome here. They have chosen to ignore us. Petrobras’ history of accidents continues with the latest mishap in the Gulf of Mexico on their deep sea rig the Chinook reported today (1). We have no confidence in this company or the government to not harm what is invaluable to us. We do not want any oil exploration or drilling in our waters.”
Greenpeace New Zealand Climate Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson on board the flotilla vessel Infinity radioed the captain of the MV Orient Explorer and demanded they cease all operations and leave the area immediately. The Captain acknowledged the call and continued with seismic testing.
The flotilla crew are currently following and observing operations. Their presence of protest and bearing witness is to send a clear message to the deep sea oil industry and the New Zealand Government. Calling from the flotilla boat Vanessa Atkinson said, “We are here to make absolutely sure that the deep sea oil industry knows that they are not welcome here.”
“Deep sea oil is at the extreme end of the fossil fuel industry. It is totally reckless for the Government to have invited this industry into our waters – in so doing they risk an oil disaster that could devastate our coastline and economy,” said Steve Abel, Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner stationed in Opotiki.
“We need Government leadership that sets a path away from fossil fuel dependence and into clean economy”, Abel said.
The seismic testing vessel Orient Explorer flagged to Panama (82 meters) is accompanied by a smaller support vessel the NZ flagged Ocean Pioneer (32.7 meters). The pictures accompanying this release are taken from a boat in the Stop Deep Sea Oil flotilla Infinity and depict the Ocean Pioneer in the foreground and the Ocean Explorer (the seismic testing vessel) in the distance. The Ocean Pioneer was attempting to divert the Infinity from their protest and observation
of the exploration.