Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is a journalist based in Auckland.

Protesters waddle on petroleum industry's summit

Protesters dressed as penguins in Wellington. Photo / APNZ
Protesters dressed as penguins in Wellington. Photo / APNZ

Protesters dressed as penguins have marched on the petroleum industry's summit in Wellington this morning to protest against deep sea oil drilling off the capital's coast.

The protest comes after United States oil giant subsidiary Anadarko NZ was last year granted two five-year permits to explore Pegasus Basin, off Cape Palliser.

Deep sea oil drilling has attracted controversy since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill off the coast of Louisiana, which was a costly environmental disaster.

More than 100 protesters, from as far as Auckland and Otago, gathered at Wellington Railway Station before marching to the NZ Petroleum Summit at Westpac Stadium shortly before 8am.

There was little disruption to peak-hour rail commuters as the protesters walked to the summit venue along the road, rather than through the station concourse.

Passing motorists beeped their horns in support of the group, some of whom were dressed as penguins and held aloft signs opposed to deep sea oil drilling and fracking.

More than 100 protesters marched to the NZ Petroleum Summit at Westpac Stadium. Photo / APNZ
More than 100 protesters marched to the NZ Petroleum Summit at Westpac Stadium. Photo / APNZ

Oil Free Wellington protest spokeswoman Fi Gibson said the march would send a strong message to oil and gas executives that deep sea drilling was too risky and unwanted.

"It's time as a collective community around the world that we need to move off the dirty fossil fuels and on to a cleaner, greener future."

The protesters intended to remain outside the summit until asked to leave by security staff.

"We are planning to sit down and voice our concerns really loudly so that the people inside the summit get the clear message that deep sea oil drilling, fracking and seabed mining are not acceptable."

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges will address top oil company executives at the second annual summit, organised by the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association NZ, this morning.

- APNZ

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