Polarcus Alima Survey Vessel Arrives to Taranaki (New Zealand)

A US oil exploration ship has arrived in Taranaki to be greeted by environmentalists protesting against the government’s “blinkered obsession” with deep water oil drilling.

The vessel Polarcus Alima arrived at New Plymouth’s port early on Monday and will leave shortly to start exploring for oil off Raglan on behalf of US oil giant Anadarko.

If successful, drilling could start next year.

The project is part of the government’s plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling which environmental groups Greenpeace and Forest & Bird say should be shelved after the Rena oil spill off Tauranga.

Greenpeace protesters staged a peaceful protest outside the port to argue that the Rena disaster raises serious questions about the merits and safety risks of deep sea drilling.

Greenpeace are here conducting a legal peaceful protest to expose the fact that even as oil continues to seep from the wreck of Rena, the government is pushing ahead with the next phase of their controversial deep sea oil drilling plans,” campaigner Simon Boxer said.

“The government’s blinkered obsession with deep water oil drilling has to stop now.”

A Mt Maunganui surfer, Dominico Zapata, travelled from the Tauranga clean-up to the west coast protest to voice his disapproval.

I’ve spent the week clearing oil off the beaches of Tauranga and witnessing the devastation on Motiti Island. I’m here today to say never again,” Mr Zapata said.

The government says it will stick with plans to promote New Zealand for deep sea oil projects, and has argued the spill from the grounded cargo ship bears no resemblance to the risk posed by offshore exploration.

Anadarko was a part owner of the Deepwater Horizon well which leaked 780 million litres of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over three months last year.

The depth of the well was arguably one reason the leak took so long to control.


Source: News, October 17 , 2011;  Image: Polarcus