Environmental organisation Greenpeace is claiming “a win of generational significance” after OMV announced plans to postpone drilling of its Maui-8 exploration well offshore New Zealand.

Greenpeace hopes that the delay would mean the end of OMV’s drilling operations in the country.

According to a report by New Zealand public service radio broadcaster RNZ, OMV has indefinitely postponed the drilling of its Maui-8 exploration well due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson said: “Following the departure of Petrobras, Anadarko, Equinor/Statoil, Chevron and others, OMV was the last major oil company searching for new oil and gas in New Zealand waters.

“It’s one of the only companies that still had the right to search for oil here after securing drill permits prior to the 2018 ban on new offshore oil exploration.”

Citing an OMV spokesperson, RNZ reported that OMV would now not go further with the Maui well and there were no plans to reschedule the work.

OMV’s drilling campaign in New Zealand has been badly disturbed since its rig, the COSL Prospector, arrived in the country last year.

The rig has recently completed the drilling of the Toutouwai-1 exploration well offshore Taranaki, and the Maui-8 well was next on the list.

Larsson added: “This oil giant’s exit has been fast-tracked as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a crisis which has shown us that both governments and people can rapidly adapt and find new ways of doing things when we face existential threats.

“Now is the time to reimagine and rebuild the world we want so that when we come out the other end of this crisis, we are living in a more resilient Aotearoa.”

Last June, a BP-owned oil rig bound for the North Sea was forced to make its second U-turn in 48 hours as a result of protest action by Greenpeace activists.