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Greenpeace NZ Sailboaters in Standoff with 100,000 Ton Noble Drillship – UPDATE

Mike Schuler
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November 20, 2013

Image courtesy Greenpeace via Facebook

UPDATE (11/20/13): The Noble Bob Douglas drillship has moved into position over an exploratory well off the coast of the New Zealand and will continue with its planned drilling operations, despite the continued presence of an encroaching Greenpeace protest sailboat.

A spokesman for Anadarko New Zealand told reporters that the SV Vega remained within 500 meters of the drillship, but plans are moving forward to begin drilling late on Thursday or early Friday.

“We are going about our business. We are getting ready to start drilling in a day or two. They can’t hold a position. They are a sail boat,” Anadarko’s corporate affairs manager Alan Seay said.

An update from Greenpeace NZ says that Bailey Tide OSV allegedly used its thrusters to push the SV Vega off location, allowing for the drillship to move in, but the sailboat remains within the 500 meter exclusion and will stay there.

The protest, apparently still in its early stages, is reminiscent of the September standoff between the Arctic Sunrise Greenpeace ship and a Russian drilling rig in the Pechora Sea, which resulted in the arrest of 30 activists who were originally charged with piracy. Unlike that incident however, the Greenpeace activists have not attempted to board the Noble Bob Douglas drillship, yet, and it’s not the Russian arctic.

As the standoff in New Zealand continues, a Russian court has now granted bail to 15 of the “Arctic 30”, including the Captain of the protest vessel, which the environmental organization said is set at $61,000 per activist. All 30 still face serious charges of hooliganism, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of seven years.

EARLIER (11/19/13): Just as Russia finally began granting bail to some of the ‘Arctic 30’ activists originally charged with piracy, Greenpeace New Zealand’s executive director Bunny McDiarmid has found herself aboard a small sailboat 100 nautical miles off the west coast of New Zealand while looking to interfere with the operations of 100,000 ton Anadarko-contracted drillship, the Noble Bob Douglas.

In a press statement Tuesday from Greenpeace, the organization said that McDiarmid, onboard the SV Vega, along with a flotilla of other activists, are currently refusing to move from the site where the Noble Bob Douglas drillship, just a few hundred meters away, intends to drill a well for the Texas-based oil giant Anadarko.

The Greenpeace statement indicates that activists may try to board the drillship to deliver a flag.

“The sailing vessel Vega will not be moving,” said McDiarmid. “We will stay where we are in defence of our ocean, in defence of future generations, in defence of climate.  We have onboard a flag made by children that says ‘I love my beach’. These children don’t want oil slopping onto their beaches.”

“We’re here to deliver this children’s flag to Anadarko’s massive, untested drilling ship. Anadarko have consistently ignored New Zealand. They, and the government, have hidden vital information from the people of New Zealand. So let’s see if they’ll ignore our children.”

greenpeace noble bob douglas drillship new zealand offshore oil
Image (c) Greenpeace

Today’s protest comes following a new law in New Zealand that seeks to criminalize certain aspects of peaceful protests at sea, which Greenpeace has dubbed as the “Anadarko Amendment”.

The location of the well is about 100 nautical miles off Raglan, on the west coast of New Zealand, in waters about one mile deep.

The protest comes as Russia has granted bail to nine of a total 30 activists for attempting to board a Russian drilling rig in the arctic. Although originally charges of piracy have been dropped, the 30 activists still face a serious charges of hooliganism, which carries the potential for lengthy jail sentences.

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