New Zealand Sends Air Force & Navy to Protect Oil Survey Ship

By The Maritime Executive 2011-04-11 15:18:07

The New Zealand government has called on the navy and air force to assist local police in monitoring a Greenpeace protest of a research ship searching for natural gas off New Zealand’s East Cape.

Greenpeace protestors along with protestors from the local organization iwi Whanaua Apanui are protesting drilling for oil and gas in New Zealand’s waters.

The Singapore based oil survey ship Orient Explorer is conducting the first seismic study of the area since Brazil’s Petrobras was awarded an $118 million five-year permit last June. The oil company is hoping to find liquefied natural gas in the 12,000 square kilometer area. The government has granted Petrobras the right to drill one well.

Lobby groups have warned New Zealand that if they don’t help with warding off protesters they’ll been seen as a less attractive option for petroleum exploration, which could cause the government to lose out on millions of dollars of potential profits.

Owners of the Orient Explorer say that activists have been swimming in front of the vessel forcing them to stop testing.  Operators of the vessel say that they fear no being able to stop in time when people are swimming right in front of the ship.

An Air Force orion is flying over to ensure the safety of everyone in the water and to ensure that research can continue uninterrupted.

Greenpeace, known for their often outlandish protests, released the following video: