20 Nov 2013

Drilling on schedule despite flotilla

2:41 pm on 20 November 2013

The company carrying out oil exploration off the Taranaki coast says protesters are not interfering with their work and drilling is set to begin by the end of the week.

Anadarko's drill ship and a protest boat at the site on Tuesday.

Anadarko's drill ship and a protest boat at the site on Tuesday. Photo: GREENPEACE

Protesters in the six-vessel Oil Free Seas flotilla are shadowing Texas-based exploration company Anadarko's drilling ship Noble Bob Douglas.

Five of the boats on Wednesday remained beyond a 500-metre exclusion area and move when the drilling ship does to remain outside the zone.

The sixth, Vega, is several hundred metres from the ship despite being warned to move beyond the non-interference zone.

Anadarko corporate affairs manager Alan Seay said most of the protest vessels are outside the zone, but one is moving in and out.

He said the company is respecting Greenpeace's right to protest and the protesters appear to be respecting their right to go about their business.

Two of Anadarko's supply ships are also nearby, but there has been no sign of the police or navy.

Vega skipper and Greenpeace chief executive Bunny McDiarmid said the drilling ship frequently changes its position. "If you don't know which way they're going to move, and they're often doing a number of different manoeuvres at the same time, you have to pretty much stay alert so you do stay where you are, or stay away."

Mr Seay said the drill ship needs to move around to place equipment on the sea floor.