Police plug oil exhibition protest

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 23/10/2014
DAILY NEWS ONLINE

Protesters against oil exploration voiced their concerns at the New Zealand Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference held at New Plymouth's TSB Stadium.

 Oil and Gas Exhibition
ROBERT CHARLES/ Fairfax NZ
Roger Ramsden from Vega NZ was at the New Zealand Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference at the TSB Stadium yesterday showing off his companies latest and greatest, including this contraction which measures the separation of layers between oil and water.
Oil protest
Urs Signer, of Climate Justice Taranaki lead a protest to the door of the New Zealand Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference at the TSB Stadium yesterday

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Oil and gas big wigs shrugged off a protest on the doorstep of their biennial conference in New Plymouth yesterday.

About 26 protesters, led by Climate Justice Taranaki member Urs Signer and including a small deputation from the East Coast chanted and waved placards as they marched to the TSB Stadium just after midday.

"Hey, hey, ho, ho, dirty drilling's got to go," they chanted.

The group called for deep sea drilling to be banned and for the oil and gas companies to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

The police were called to the protest and five officers moved the rowdy group away from the stadium's entrance.

The protest lasted about an hour before the group left.

David Murphy, sales and account manager for the New Zealand exhibition said they had anticipated a protest and had given the police a "heads up".

Organisers just wanted the group moved away from the entrance, he said.

"As long as they were peaceful, we didn't mind," he said.

"We respect their right to protest, just like we hope they respect our right to have an expo here."

It was important people were able to have their concerns heard, he said, before emphasising the two-day conference had guest speakers presenting about environmental best practices.

Murphy said the expo was an opportunity for oil and gas people from around Taranaki and New Zealand to come together and discuss the industry.

"That's great for Taranaki's industry and economy," he said.

Inside the expo the latest and greatest of oil and gas technology was on display.

Roger Ramsden, owner of Vega NZ, said the expo was a way to show off the best the business had to offer.

The company's products, which were used throughout Taranaki, are for the measurement of level, limit level and pressure.

Vega NZ's distributing company Instrumatics had an oil separator on display at the expo, complete with red coloured water and vegetable oil.

Because of their different densities, over time water and oil will separate from each other completely.

The vegetable oil in the display represented oil that could be found in the industry and the role of the Vega NZ machine was to track and record the position of the individual separation layers so the technicians could tell when the separation was fully complete.

The exact measurement of the separation of oil, water and sand was critical for the quality of the oil, Ramsden said.

"It's all about quality and safety," he said.

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