Monday, October 17, 2011
Police took to Port Taranaki yesterday to chase Greenpeace protesters away from a ship about to survey Taranaki waters for oil drilling. Five protesters on paddleboards and carrying signs approached the Polarcus Alima at its berth. They were intercepted by a police boat and issued with trespass notices. The 90-metre Polarcus Alima will remain in New Zealand waters for up to seven months. Its first assignment is to conduct a three-dimensional survey in the Deepwater Taranaki Basin for US oil giant Anadarko. The protest drew a heavy police presence and public access to the small boat area on the eastern side of the port was blocked by Port Taranaki. A police launch had been brought to Taranaki in expectation of a seaborne protest. Senior Sergeant Terry van Dillen said no protesters were able to board the vessel despite attempts earlier in the day. "Our presence is purely to ensure that everyone's rights are respected. We are there to protect the lawful right to peaceful protest and the lawful right of the oil company which owns the vessel to go about their lawful business."Greenpeace campaigner Simon Boxer said yesterday's protest was designed to expose the fact that even as oil continued to seep from the wreck of the container vessel Rena off Tauranga, the Government was pushing ahead with the next phase of its controversial deep sea oil drilling plans. "It's time they stopped spending millions on trying to entice the deep sea oil industry to New Zealand and telling us that to drill ever deeper is the only future for this country. "This is simply not true – study after study tells us that leveraging New Zealand's clean reputation is the key to our economic future," he said. Greenpeace claims there has been a surge of public interest after the Rena spill, with thousands of New Zealanders signing its No New Oil petition over the last week, bringing the number of signatories to more than 92,000. Anadarko New Zealand corporate affairs manager Alan Seay said Greenpeace was "perfectly entitled" to make its views known. "But it also needs to be pointed out that the oil and gas industry has earned billions of dollars for New Zealand, and has the potential to earn billions more. And energy operations in New Zealand are to very strict safety and environmental standards," he said.