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New Zealanders are protesting against deepwater offshore drilling by Anadarko Petroleum off the North Island’s west coast.

It was reported Monday that protest boats had blocked Anadarko’s drilling vessel, the Noble Bob Douglas.

“Anadarko had planned to begin drilling operations 185 kilometres off the coast of Raglan but it was blocked by six vessels in protest. One protest ship, the Vega, still remains within the exclusion zone of 500 metres,” according to the International Business Times.

Among the protesters aboard the Vega include Greenpeace New Zealand chief executive Bunny McDiarmid and Jeanette Fitzsimmons, a former co-leader for the Green Party, the report said.

The 752-foot Noble Bob Douglas can work in water up to 10,000 feet deep.

Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said Anadarko’s ship arrived on November 19 and hasn’t started operations.

Andarko New Zealand Corporate Affairs Manager Alan Seay said drilling will start on Nov. 28 even if the protests ships stay in the vicinity.

More than 3,000 protesters were on beaches Muriwai to Wanganui, the IBT said.

New Zealand produces oil exclusively in the Taranaki basin.

Remaining reserves (P50) as at 1 January 2012 were 149 million barrels of oil (mmbbls) for producing fields.

Oil production is currently dominated by the Maari, Pohokura and Tui fields.