South Africa Court Halts Shell Seismic Survey Plan in Landmark Judgement

South Africa Court Halts Shell Seismic Survey Plan in Landmark Judgement (News Central TV)
Protestors at the Waterfront waiting the arrival of the Amazon Warrior . They are against the planned Shell seismic survey for oil and gas in the ocean on November 21, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. It is reported that Shell has announced that it will carry out a three-dimensional seismic survey in search of oil and gas deposits from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns off the Wild Coast. (Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

A South African court on Tuesday blocked Shell from using seismic waves to explore for oil and gas in the Indian Ocean, handing a landmark victory to environmentalists worried about the impact on whales and other species. Backing a suit filed by conservationists and local groups, the High Court in the Eastern Cape town of Makhanda declared Shell was “interdicted from undertaking seismic survey operations.”

Shell initially planned to start exploration over more than 6,000 square kilometres of ocean off South Africa’s Wild Coast region.

The Wild Coast is a 300-kilometre stretch of natural beauty, dotted with marine and nature reserves.

Conservationists had protested against Shell’s seismic survey

The area of interest lies 20 kilometres off the coast, in waters 700 to 3,000 metres deep. Shell’s plan of action implies using seismic shockwaves which bounce off the sea bed, and whose signature can point to potentially energy-bearing sites.

Janet Solomon, of the environmental group Oceans Not Oil in the runup to the hearing said “Many sea creatures will be affected, from whales, dolphins, seals, penguins to tiny plankton that will be blasted”

Exploration had been scheduled to start on December 1 and last up to five months. A Shell spokesperson said Tuesday: “We respect the court’s decision and have paused the survey while we review the judgement.

“Surveys of this nature have been conducted for over 50 years with more than 15 years of extensive peer-reviewed scientific research.”

The campaigners were jubilant at the ruling, but stressed that the relief was only temporary.

“It’s a huge victory,” said Katherine Robinson of the NGO Natural Justice.

“But the struggle is not over – this decision is just the interdict. We understand that the proceedings will continue.”

Shell argued that it would take great care to prevent or minimise the impact on wildlife, and promised that the work would strictly follow the guidelines of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

A petition against the project had gathered nearly 85,000 signatures. Campaigners said the scheme would entail “one extremely loud shock wave every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for five months at a time.”


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