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