Greenpeace NZ Sailboaters in Standoff with 100,000 Ton Noble Drillship

The Noble Bob Douglas drillship has moved into position over an exploratory well off the coast of New Zealand and will continue with its planned drilling operations despite the continued presence of the Greenpeace protest sailboat.

A spokesman for Anadarko New Zealand told NZ Newswire that the SV Vega remained within 500 meters of the drillship, but plans are moving forward to begin drilling late on Thursday or early Friday.

An update from Greenpeace NZ says that Bailey Tide OSV allegedly used its thrusters to push the SV Vega off location, allowing for the drillship to move in, but the sailboat remains within the 500 meter exclusion and will stay there.

The protest, apparently still in its early stages, is reminiscent of the September standoff between the Arctic Sunrise Greenpeace ship and a Russian drilling rig in the Pechora Sea, which resulted in the arrest of 30 activists who were originally charged with piracy. Unlike that incident however, the Greenpeace activists have not attempted to board the Noble Bob Douglas drillship, yet, and it’s not the Russian arctic.

As the standoff in New Zealand continues, a Russian court has now granted bail to 15 of the “Arctic 30″, including the Captain of the protest vessel, which the environmental organization said is set at $61,000 per activist. All 30 still face serious charges of hooliganism, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of seven years.

EARLIER (11/19/13): Just as Russia finally began granting bail to some of the ‘Arctic 30′ activists originally charged with piracy, Greenpeace New Zealand’s executive director Bunny McDiarmid has found herself aboard a small sailboat 100 nautical miles off the west coast of New Zealand while looking to interfere with the operations of 100,000 ton Anadarko-contracted drillship, the Noble Bob Douglas.

In a press statement Tuesday from Greenpeace, the organization said that McDiarmid, onboard the SV Vega, along with a flotilla of other activists, are currently refusing to move from the site where the Noble Bob Douglas drillship, just a few hundred meters away, intends to drill a well for the Texas-based oil giant Anadarko.

The Greenpeace statement indicates that activists may try to board the drillship to deliver a flag.

“The sailing vessel Vega will not be moving,” said McDiarmid. “We will stay where we are in defense of our ocean, in defence of future generations, in defence of climate.  We have onboard a flag made by children that says ‘I love my beach’. These children don’t want oil slopping onto their beaches.”

“We’re here to deliver this children’s flag to Anadarko’s massive, untested drilling ship. Anadarko have consistently ignored New Zealand. They, and the government, have hidden vital information from the people of New Zealand. So let’s see if they’ll ignore our children.”

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