Activists confront seismic vessel Amazon Warrior off New Zealand

Seismic vessel Amazon Warrior has been intercepted offshore New Zealand by the Māori people demanding a stop of a seismic survey in the tribal waters off the coast of Ngāti Kahungunu. 

Te Matau a Māui, a traditional double-hulled ocean voyaging canoe belonging to the people of Ngāti Kahungunu (Hawkes Bay), confronted the world’s largest seismic survey ship, the Amazon Warrior, on April 3.

Te Matau a Māui and its crew converged with Greenpeace’s vessel, Taitu, to confront the Amazon Warrior, which is conducting the seismic survey in Te Ikaroa-Rāwhiti waters in search of oil off the Hawkes Bay coastline.

The protesters asked the crew of the seismic vessel to leave the waters immediately.

Spokesperson for Te Matau a Māui, Raihania Tipoki, said: “We have warned the Amazon Warrior numerous times to stop what they’re doing and leave our waters, they have not listened.”

Delegation member aboard Te Matau a Māui, Tina Ngata, said: “We will not allow this abusive activity to occur without resistance.”

The multi-client 3D seismic survey is being conducted by Schlumberger’s marine seismic subsidiary WesternGeco on behalf of the Austrian oil company OMV and the U.S. oil major Chevron. It began in November 2016 and will finish in May or June 2017, depending on weather.

The seismic vessel and the survey off New Zealand was previously targeted by a Greenpeace crew off the coast of Wairarapa in January. Schlumberger responded to the January protest by stating that the survey was being carried out with a wide range of measures for minimizing the impact to marine mammals.

The survey encompasses a wider area, which includes permits 57083, 57085 and 57087 where Statoil is a partner with Chevron as operator and permit 57073 where Statoil is a partner with OMV as operator.

Offshore Energy Today has reached out to Schlumberger seeking comment on the latest protest against seismic testing in New Zealand waters. We are yet to receive any response from the company.

According to the International Association of Geophysical Contractors, the sound produced during seismic surveys is comparable in magnitude to many naturally occurring and other man-made ocean sound sources, including wind and wave action, rain, lightning strikes, marine life, and shipping.

Also, according to PEPANZ, a New Zealand association promoting oil and gas industry, seismic surveying and “countless research projects have shown no evidence to suggest that sound from oil and gas exploration activities in normal operating circumstances has harmed marine species or marine ecological communities.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff