OMV hit by Greenpeace protests in New Zealand

Austrian oil company OMV has been under attack by Greenpeace activists in New Zealand at two separate occasions. First, the protesters boarded OMV’s supply vessel at a port in Timaru and then moved the protests in front of OMV’s offices in Plymouth. 

Activists spent three days this week protesting in front of OMV’s Plymouth offices. This protest was preceded by an occupation of OMV’s support vessel Skandi Atlantic in late November.

Namely, 30 people, including a team of Greenpeace climbers, on November 24 climbed aboard the support vessel for OMV’s oil rig and some locked themselves to the ship to stop it from leaving the port.

According to Greenpeace, the Bahamas-flagged Skandi Atlantic was preparing to leave the Port of Timaru and travel north to meet an oil rig commissioned by OMV, now stationed off the coast of Taranaki.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, Amanda Larsson, said: “By occupying OMV’s henchboat, we’re delaying the monster rig from drilling for new oil in the middle of a climate emergency.”

Larsson added: “People are over it. We’re over companies being allowed to search for new oil to burn in the middle of a climate emergency, threatening the lives of millions of people. At every turn, OMV can expect us to be all over them.”

After 50 hours of occupying the support vessel in Timaru to prevent it from leaving the port, the last 10 protesters were forcibly removed by the police on Tuesday, November 26. However, Greenpeace did not stop there. The environmentalist organization then announced its intentions to continue the protest in front of OMV’s offices in Plymouth.

Larsson said in a statement on November 26: “This resistance is only set to continue. Next week, hundreds of people from around the country are gearing up to take part in a Climate Uprising mobilization in New Plymouth, where this vessel is heading and OMV has its Taranaki Headquarters.”

Following the end of protests on the support vessel, a group of people who had been occupying the vessel in the Port of Timaru raced north to New Plymouth – the destination of the boat and OMV’s Taranaki base.

Plymouth protest

On Monday, December 2 protesters formed a human barricade around OMV’s offices in Taranaki – shutting it down. The activists called on OMV to leave New Zealand.

The three-day occupation of OMV headquarters in New Plymouth wrapped up on Wednesday. Greenpeace claimed that at least 300 of the oil giant’s staff were forced to stay away from the office during the protest.

However, the activists have left OMV a parting gift. They’ve installed an outdoor pop-up museum in OMV’s front car park, full of artifacts from the oil industry’s past.

Greenpeace stated that OMV is about to begin drilling for new oil and gas off Taranaki, and has plans to move into the untouched, deep seas of the Great South Basin off Dunedin afterward.

Larsson said: “We are encouraging OMV executives to help New Zealanders make oil history by surrendering their permits to drill in New Zealand waters. We can always find a place for it in our oil museum.”

According to information on OMV’s New Zealand website, the company’s exploration team is actively working towards a drilling campaign in the Taranaki basin in 2019/2020 aiming to grow OMV’s and New Zealand’s reserves through new discoveries. This exploration drilling campaign is supported by the acquisition of the largest seismic survey ever acquired in the Taranaki Basin.

In addition, the company is committed to drill one exploration well in the Great South Basin, which is required to be drilled by July 2021.

Shell wins court order 

Over in Europe, Shell last week won a court order against Greenpeace aimed at preventing environmentalists from boarding the company’s oil installations in the North Sea.

In October 2019, Greenpeace protested on the Shell-operated Brent field in the North Sea against the company’s plans to leave parts of old oil structures with 11,000 tonnes of oil in the North Sea.

Following the protest, Shell sought an order from the Edinburgh court to ban protests near the company’s platforms. The judge concluded that since the installations were private property, Shell had a legal right to stop the climate activists from accessing them.