Balclutha’s Elizabeth St plaza was overshadowed by a large model oil rig late last month.
It marked Oil Free Otago’s opposition to the OMV-operated oil and gas rig stationed in the Great South Basin, 146km southeast off the coast of the South Island.
Activists from the group spoke to those gathered, often over the revs of car engines driving past.
OMV has emphasised its focus on gas over oil harvesting, stating “supplies of gas will still be needed for some time until alternative energy sources are developed”.
The company cited an Interim Climate Change Commission report which stated “using natural gas in the electricity system may be an effective mechanism to minimise emissions and achieve security of supply until 2035”.
Oil Free Otago activist Rosemary Penwarden said there was “not enough time to consider gas a viable fuel”.
“The gas is mostly methane, and does 86 times more damage to the environment than CO2,” Ms Penwarden said.
Kaitangata resident Anne-Marie Davis was impressed with what she heard.
“I think it’s opened my eyes further,” Mrs Davis said.
“It’s lovely to participate in this.
“I do struggle with hypocrisy. I’m trying to get better at participating.”
Dunedin Oil Free Otago activist Campbell Sinclair also attended the event, and said “we need to do what we can to protect the biosphere.
“We’re entering the sixth mass extinction. It’s .. do something now or face the apocalypse,” Mr Sinclair said.
In opposition to the protest was Balclutha resident Tim Brown, who questioned what the alternative to oil and gas use could be in the short term.
“We can’t do without oil or gas,” Mr Brown said.
“They all came here in cars and buses anyway.
“I just came to see what wallies would show up.”