Shell wins seismic court battle in South Africa

A South African court on Friday ruled that Shell can move forward with a seismic survey off the country’s Wild Coast, after dismissing a joint legal application by several activist groups.

This week, the Border Deep Sea Angling Association, Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club, Natural Justice, and Greenpeace Africa filed an urgent court interdict seeking to halt the survey, claiming that the work would have an outsized impact on local wildlife, particularly migrating humpback whales in the area.

According to a Greenpeace release, the court concluded that the applicants had failed to persuade the judge that there was a reasonable fear of “irreparable harm” if the interdict was not granted, and that, given the financial and other disadvantages to Shell if the seismic surveys were delayed, the “balance of convenience” was in Shell’s favour.

Shell has already been the subject of an online petition and many rallies in response to the survey. On Thursday, several local communities, along with two civil society organizations, Sustaining the Wild Coast and All Rise Attorneys for Climate and the Environment, filed a separate court lawsuit seeking to suspend the project.

Greenpeace said it will discuss the decision with other applicants and their legal counsel while continuing to support the application presented on behalf of Wild Coast communities.

“We will continue to support the nation-wide resistance against Shell and pursue the legal avenue to stop Shell. We must do everything we can to undo the destructive colonial legacy of extractivism, until we live in a world where people and the planet come before the profits of toxic fossil fuel companies,” said Happy Khambule, senior climate and energy campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa.

Shell canceled plans to assist in the development of the Cambo oil field in the North Sea on Thursday, citing rising criticism of the project, but has maintained its plans for the South African coastline despite strong local resistance.

According to a Shell spokeswoman, the court’s judgment will assist in taking this seismic survey forward in compliance with regulatory approval and permitting. The campaign is to be carried out by Shearwater GeoServices‘ 2014-built vessel, Amazon Warrior (pictured).

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.
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