Petroleum summit beginning today

With one of the New Zealand oil and gas exploration industry's busiest years ahead, with up to 13 test wells and possibly four rigs in the country, its annual petroleum conference begins in Wellington today.

The New Zealand Petroleum Summit, hosted by the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand, includes delegates and speakers from Shell New Zealand, OMV New Zealand, Todd Energy, Tag Oil and New Zealand Oil and Gas. Several will address mounting public concern over environmental standards and monitoring.

One panel discussion is highlighting the spread of exploration beyond Taranaki to areas where the public and local authorities are unfamiliar with the sector, and how that should be addressed.

Updates are expected from Minister of Energy and Resources Simon Bridges, Kerry Prendergast, of the Environmental Protection Authority, and Government permitting agency New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals.

High on several agendas are environmental issues, including the type of deep-water drilling proposed off Otago's coast by Anadarko, in January, and possibly Shell within a year.

International key-note speakers, from Shell and Halliburton, include issues of environmental and social impact management, and risk mitigation in the growing deep-water drilling operations around the world.

The two-day conference concludes tomorrow with a political debate, including Mr Bridges, Labour's spokesman for energy, Moana Mackey and the Green Party's co-leader, Russel Norman.

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