Oil protest targets survey ship
Anti-oil drilling protesters swam through Wellington Harbour this morning to place a banner on a visiting oil surveying ship.
Members of Oil Free Wellington attached a flag reading ''Oil Free Seas'' to the side of the survey boat MV Duke, about 10.30am.
The ship has been commissioned to do exploratory deep sea drilling in the Pegasus Basin, Canterbury Basin and Taranaki Basin for Texas oil company Anadarko.
The ship arrived in Wellington yesterday to do final planning, preparation and health and safety checks before heading to the Pegasus Basin where it will run 4500km lines of tests until the end of February.
If oil fields are found, early reports suggested about 150 million barrels of oil could be collected from drilling rigs between 25 and 100km from the coast.
Oil Free Wellington spokeswoman Emma Moon said the two protesters were in the water for about an hour, and while they were cold and tired at the end, the protest had been successful.
The purpose of the protest was to ''show Anadarko that while their ship is here Wellingtonians have noticed''.
The company, which had already encountered protests while surveying in Taranaki, should ''expect resistance to their plans at every step'', Ms Moon said.
Fellow protester Jessie Dennis said the surveys would have a negative impact on marine mammals, and drilling threatened coastal and marine life.
''Instead of locking ourselves into a fossil fuel intensive future, New Zealand should transition towards a sustainable and just society.''
Anadarko spokesman Alan Seay was unconcerned by the protest.
''We understand and we respect the right that people have to protest it's part of our democracy.''
However, he said there would be concerns if protests were not carried out safely.
''We would ask that protesters respect our right to carry on our legal business and also that protest is done safely.''
Once surveying was complete it would be some months before the data was analysed and any decisions on drilling made, he said.
Ms Moon said the protest would continue tomorrow, with a march starting from Midland Park at 12.30pm.
The Dominion Post