Oil protesters shut down Shell meeting

Protesters opposed to oil-exploration yesterday caused a meeting between Shell and mainly business groups in Dunedin to be abandoned.

Shell called a halt about noon, halfway through the scheduled two-hour meeting.

Up to six uninvited protesters had joined the meeting with Shell's consent, but kept interrupting proceedings.

The meeting was hosted in its chambers by the Dunedin City Council. Initially, two police officers were at the meeting but within an hour 10 were present. No arrests were made.

More than 30 protesters joined the Oil Free Otago group outside the chambers, while fewer than 30 guests of Shell, including councillors, Port Otago, University of Otago and Department of Conservation staff, attended the meeting.

The public was excluded. Media were allowed to photograph the meeting, but not report on what was said.

One Oil Free member was dressed in an elephant suit, to demonstrate the ''elephant in the room'' - Shell's global safety record.

Shell New Zealand exploration venture manager Roland Spuij said after the meeting he was ''disappointed'' the protesters forced the closure of the meeting, but he had briefed guests on technical and environmental updates before calling the meeting off.

''We were at the point of answering questions [raised at a December briefing], but kept getting interrupted.''

One guest said the interruptions rendered the briefing ''a total waste of time'' and another said it was a ''lost opportunity'' for businesses to pose questions directly to Shell.

Oil Free spokeswoman Rosemary Penwarden highlighted to protesters a litany of environmental mishaps around the world, citing more than 800 oil rig fires, 1300 accidents and 69 deaths around the Gulf of Mexico, and almost 500 ''blow-outs'' and subsequent pollution in the North Sea oilfield.

''We are going to continue. Stupid authoritarian laws are not going to stop us,'' she said.

''Nothing they [Shell] can say can convince me that anything they do will be good for my grandson.''

Des Adamson, of the council's economic development unit, said the protesters were given leave to ask questions, but instead they had ''acted childishly'' by ''continually interrupting''.

''From an economic point of view, we would do this to welcome any company that was considering coming to the city,'' Mr Adamson said.

Selling risk

This is a multinational oil company, hardliners who don't really take seriously such respectfully put questions. Corporates will sit down and talk, but submitters need to make a case, eyeball and challenge them, not be overly polite, or shout at them.

Go to work

tosh: yes, probably, and just burning it and tossing it into the atmosphere is probably not a good long term plan anyway. On the other hand much of the interesting materials research at the moment is in carbon compounds - chances are hydrocarbons are going to be much more valuable as feedstock for making stuff out of carbon - but then again it might be cheaper to start mining our tips.

Really though depending on some outside organisation  to come to Dunedin and wave a magic wand and make more jobs is silly - if they do, all well and good, but really we need a plan that doesn't involve money fairies - that means starting companies here in Dunedin - lots of them, starting small and growing bigger if they succeed - don't wait for someone else  to start strewing money around, earn it yourself, invest in that guy down the road or your cousin with the really bright idea - get together with your mates and throw a few bucks his or her way from your own pockets. That's how real wealth happens.

Winning the lottery, any lottery, is not a good plan for life. Working hard is.

It's about risk minimisation

Its about risk minimisation. Unless people want to live locked inside a bunker for the rest of their life people have to accept risks. I minimise my risk on the road by driving to the speed limit, getting my WOF and not drink-driving. Sensible protesting outlining people's concerns would hopefully force Shell to address these issues. For example, someone might say: "I'm excited about the economic prospects your company is going to bring but I'm worried about a catastrophic oil spill affecting our pristine coastline. What measures will you take to prevent and mitigate against such an event?" 

Race with renewable

On the other hand, as countries are pumping millions or even billions of dollars into research to find more economical source of renewable energy, oil may be "worthless" in 40 years. Or with technological advancement, it may be cheaper to extract oil in a lot more places (that are not accessible now) than NZ. Only time will tell which way it will go.


It is a pity some people cant "see the wood from the trees" Show a bit of respect protesters, listen to what people have to say. I hope Shell can see past the immaturity and still consider the possibilities here. The environment and resource extraction can work side by side if controls are set in place and monitored.

Tui Ad

If something doesn't happen soon in Dunedin in the near future with the decreasing amount of work down here, the only thing good about it is that it would make a good Tui Ad: Dunedin, there's plenty of work down there......Yeah right.

Invest in Peak Oil

The longer we leave the oil in the ground the more money we'll eventually make when it's taken out - if there's oil out there it will be worth 100 times as much 40 years from now than it does now - that's a great investment, and we don't have to do anything to make it - and the best part is that if we let Shell and friends make their mistakes elsewhere in the world the technology to extract it will also be 100 times safer when the time comes.

Just digging everything up and leaving nothing for our kids is incredibly selfish.


You can rest assured Albert

You can rest assured, Albert Square, that if and when Shell decides to drill, the breeding habits of the Southern Right whales will be properly addressed when they apply for their statutory drilling consents. And you will be fully entitled to make submission on this matter at that time

What a joke

Not one probing question or rational argument. They have done nothing to advance their cause and everything to make it harder. Wonder how much notice they will get of any further meetings and how much leeway they will get to attend if they do find out about them.

There seems to be a problem with their collective memory as well, the bearded guy says they will stop Shell drilling just like they stopped  the Springbok Tour. I hope they are more successful this time as I seem to recall going to a number of games during that tour. Also considering they make a point about singing the national anthem the guy in the green teeshirt can't even remember  the words as he was clearly reading them off his piece of paper.

Also wonder how many of them got there by car, motorbike or bus? If they were true to their cause the bearded guy wouldn't be drinking his coffee through a plastic lid and the lady in the glasses wouldn't use them as I'd bet both have petroleum in them.

Notice I say I hope they are more successful, and I do to a certain degree because I do have concerns about the potential for accidents and damage to our environment but if I had been bothered to attend a meeting like that I would have asked my questions or expressed my concerns in a far more civilised manner, these people are an embarrasment to Dunedin.


Oil off the coast

Do the protesters really think their meagre ramblings are going to scare off a major company from billions of dollars of revenue. If there is oil off the coast it will be extracted, simple as that. The government (which we voted into power) is all for oil exploration and so am I. I love Dunedin, but don't want it to die a slow economic death forcing me to leave. We use oil for everything. Farming, plastics, cars, power, mining and economic prosperity.  Without it i wouldn't be writing this on a computer and would be living like we did 500 years ago cold, hungry and disease ridden. I agree we don't want to see a major oil spill off the coast but I can assure you neither does Shell. It costs them billions in lost production, fines, clean up costs and severly tarnishes their reputation (which really means their share price). I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives. It would actually reduce oil consumption as we may no longer need to import it which uses up energy to get it here half way across the world.   

Barking up the wrong tree

The majority of us want jobs, jobs and more jobs for this and future generations. Protesters may have good intentions at heart. But their actions are preventing jobs creation in this country. Should we shut down all the roads or an industry or remove all cars just because there are accidents and deaths every year?

Ken Saro-Wiwa

Shouldn't we just trust Shell? After all, they've operated so well on the Niger Delta....

What about the calving?

That's all very well, but the Southern Right does its calving here offshore. Do we really need to muck up everything?

Well done protesters

Your doing a great job of hindering future employment opportunities for Dunedin people. Soon there will be no jobs left in this country for our people as more will leave our shores to obtain work. Finding oil off the coast of Dunedin is about the only thing that will save this city.

A clean green country may be a great plan in your eyes but will be of no use to any when there is no one left here to enjoy it.


One only has to view the video

One only has to view the YouTube of this meeting to see how devoid of rational thought the protesters were. And how badly behaved. Their arguments were without substance.

Shell drilling in NZ

Shame I would have liked to be there but I am busy working on a gas line in Burma.  The NZ govt certainly likes my income taxes I pay.  The $200 mill for exploration is peanuts, it's what may follow a discovery we want.  Get NZ out of the whinging whiny sorry state its in.   Just one little production wellhead in Taranaki gives us NZers 1 billion a year in profit.  20 more would be a good start


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