Oily People Send Warning Over New Offshore Drilling
Auckland, 25 July 2010: Greenpeace volunteers covered themselves in ‘oil’ today to send a strong message to the
Government to stop its plans for the drilling of new deep water oil wells off New Zealand’s coast.
The group braved the wintery conditions at Muriwai Beach, west of Auckland, to strip off and cover themselves in a cold
and unsightly mixture of mainly molasses and water.
Other oil-covered bodies moved amongst onlookers, collecting signatures against the drilling plans.
The event was held at Muriwai to highlight the fact that Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee is intending to
announce the awarding of further petroleum exploration permits by the end of August for oil in the Reinga and Northland
coastal zones – which together cover 150,000 square kilometres, an area bigger than the whole of the North Island (1).
The expected awarding of further permits to international oil companies is part of a dramatic escalation in planned deep
sea oil drilling by the Government. In June this year the Brazilian owned Petrobras oil company was awarded an
exploration permit off the East Cape.
“As the ongoing BP Gulf oil disaster demonstrates, deepwater oil drilling is inherently dangerous and accidents can have
devastating effects on the marine environment, with huge economic consequences for the tourism and fishing industries.
Not to mention the fact that burning oil fuels climate change,” says Carmen Gravatt, Greenpeace New Zealand Campaign
“Gerry Brownlee has obviously not learnt from the Government’s recent Schedule-4 fiasco. New Zealanders have told the
Government that they do not want this country’s valuable ‘clean and green’ reputation and way of life compromised for a
short-term gain by international oil companies.
“A disaster on the scale of what is happening in the Gulf would bring New Zealand to its knees, and yet the Government
is eyeing up drilling sites where the water is double the depth of the water at the site of the Gulf BP disaster,”
The Government’s oil drilling plans come at a time when many other countries are turning away from fossil fuels in
response to the climate change crisis, and investing in a Cleantech Revolution of efficiency and renewable energy
technologies. In 2008, the global investment in green energy eclipsed that of fossil fuels, attracting US$140bn compared
with US$110bn for gas, coal and electricity.
“New Zealand’s competitors are spending billions in order to become part of the Cleantech Revolution. We will miss out
if this Government continues to think in 19th century economic terms,” says Gravatt.
"Clean technology represents a huge economic opportunity that New Zealand simply can't afford to miss - a chance to
achieve the sort of sustainable growth and a knowledge-led economy that will be the pillar of the 21st century green
revolution. What we need from John Key's Government is a clear commitment to investing in clean technologies,” she says.
Fifteen thousand people have signed Greenpeace’s online petition against any new offshore oil wells, and any expansion
of coal mining operations, since the petition was launched four weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is currently en route to the Gulf of Mexico to investigate and documents
the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill.