Court blocks Shell from exploitation in South Africa
A South African court on Tuesday blocked Shell from using seismic waves to explore for oil and gas in the Indian Ocean, in a victory for environmentalists worried about the impact on whales and other species.
Backing a suit filed by conservationists, the High Court in the Eastern Cape town of Makhanda ruled that Shell was “hereby interdicted from undertaking seismic survey operations.”
The fossil fuel giant had announced plans to start exploration over more than 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 square miles) of ocean off South Africa’s Wild Coast region.
The Wild Coast is a 300-kilometre (185-mile) stretch of natural beauty, dotted with marine and nature reserves.The area of interest lies 20 kilometres (12 miles) off the coast, in waters 700 to 3,000 meters deep (2,300 to 10,000 feet).
Shell’s scheme entails using seismic shockwaves which bounce off the sea bed, and whose signature can point to potentially energy-bearing sites.
“Many sea creatures will be affected, from whales, dolphins, seals, penguins to tiny plankton that will be blasted,” said Janet Solomon, of the environmental group Oceans Not Oil in the runup to the hearing.
Exploration had been scheduled to start on December 1 and last up to five months.
South Africans have been holding protests against plans by Royal Dutch Shell to do seismic oil exploration they say will threaten marine wildlife on a coastal region with fragile ecosystem.