Calling all boat owning Baby Boomers - climate campaigning Millennial need your help

  • Feb 14, 2020
  • Manawatu Standard

Climate campaigning Millennials are calling on boat-owning Boomers to help them sail to an oil rig – 160 kilometres off the coast of the South Island.

Members of Extinction Rebellion want to send a flotilla of protesters to OMV's offshore drilling platform in the Great South Basin.

They are now hoping yacht skipper or even fishing vessel owners will hear their cry and come to their aid.

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OMV's drilling rig, COSL Prospector, was transported from Taranaki, around Stewart Island, and began drilling off the coast of Otago in mid-January.

The group plan to sail to the drill-site from Careys Bay in Port Chalmers to capture images of the deep sea exploration taking place.

Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Siana Fitzjohn said if deep sea drilling goes wrong it poses a huge risk to the ocean.

"If there's a blow-out it'll take a long time to cap that well. It's a huge threat to oceanic ecosystems," she said.

"We are after boats because we want to hitch a ride about 85 nautical miles out into the Great South Basin to confront OMV's giant oil rig.

"It's super important because what they are doing is out of sight at the moment so we want to bear witness to their oil drilling and go out there on behalf of people who are concerned about climate change and concerned about our oceans."

She said the plan to sail to the rig was inspired by New Zealand's nuclear-free moment in the mid-1980s.

"I'm feeling pretty optimistic at the moment, I know how New Zealand works and someone is going to know someone who will have the right vessel and just be keen for an adventure."

Gabriel Selischi, senior vice-president of OMV Australasia, said the drilling activity has been granted approval by Maritime NZ, the NZ Environmental Protection Authority and WorkSafe NZ "to ensure that potential environmental effects can be minimised or avoided".

"This rig is the most modern and technically capable drilling rig to ever operate in NZ waters," he said.

"To further mitigate potential risks of environmental impacts, OMV will be undertaking the drilling using a highly advanced and capable drilling rig, the COSL Prospector, that can handle North Sea conditions.

"OMV New Zealand respects people's right to lawfully and peacefully protest. Importantly, we acknowledge that the protesters have indicated they do not intend to breach the exclusion zone around the drilling operations."