22 Nov 2013

Protest boat says it's stopping drilling

4:08 pm on 22 November 2013

The former co-leader of the Green Party says a protest boat has stopped an Anadarko drilling ship from starting its oil exploration mission off the coast of Taranaki.

Anadarko's drill ship and protest boat the Vega.

Anadarko's drill ship and protest boat the Vega. Photo: GREENPEACE

Protesters in the six-vessel Oil Free Seas flotilla have been shadowing Texas-based company Anadarko's the Noble Bob Douglas since Wednesday and one, the Vega, remains inside a 500-metre exclusion zone.

Jeanette Fitzsimons, who is on the Vega, said on Friday that the ketch is preventing Anardarko's vessel from drilling by zig-zagging a few hundred metres in front of it.

"We understand that while we're doing that they can't begin actual drilling, so we're hoping that we may prevent that."

However, Anadarko said the ship is not yet ready to begin drilling in waters 1.5km deep and the protesters are having no impact.

New regulations mean that it is an offence to be within what is called a non-interference zone.

However, Ms Fitzsimons said the protest boats haven't had any contact from law enforcement agencies, despite the Vega apparently breaching that zone.