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Protesters target NZ Petroleum Conference

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/03/2017

Protesters are planning a blockade to disrupt the New Zealand Petroleum Conference in New Plymouth.

The two-day conference begins on Wednesday and the programme includes the government's launch of the 2017 Block Offer, the tender for exploration permits.

At last year's event in Auckland, more than 100 protesters opposed to deep sea drilling blocked the entrances to the central city venue.

The People's Climate Rally is promising the same this week, with spokesperson Emily Tuhi-Ao Bailey saying groups from around New Zealand have gathered in Taranaki.

"The climate science is clear: We can't keep burning fossil fuels if we have any hope of stopping climate change," she said.

"This recent economic strategy of take, make and waste is pure madness."

More than 400 delegates from New Zealand and overseas are expected at the conference, which is being held in Taranaki for the first time.

Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand chief executive Cameron Madgwick said the industry had a long history in the province, with the first well in the British Empire being drilled at Moturoa in 1865.

Today, oil and gas accounted for 41 per cent of the province's GDP.

Mr Madgwick said 11,000 people across New Zealand were employed directly as a result of Taranaki's oil and gas resources.

He also said oil was one of the country's top 10 export earners.

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