Shell Ordered to Stop Seismic Survey Along the Ecologically Sensitive Wild Coast

News Flash

  • Shell has been ordered to stop its seismic survey along the ecologically sensitive Wild Coast by the high court in Makhanda this morning.  
  • The world’s largest seismic ship operated by Shell Exploration and Production SA’s partner, Shearwater GeoServices, the Seismic Warrior, earlier this month started to drag up to 48 air guns methodically through 6 011km² of ocean surface from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns over a five month period. 
  • The air guns fire extremely loud shock wave emissions that penetrate through 3km of water and 40km into the Earth’s crust below the seabed. 
  • Environmentalist groups are up in arms because of the negative impact the methodology of blasting waves of sound of up to 220 decibels may have on the marine environment. 
  • More than 300000 people have already signed an online petition started by Oceans Not Oil Coalition calling on South Africa’s environment minister, Barbara Creecy, Shell and Operation Phakisa to stop the survey.   

Judge Gerald Bloem on Tuesday morning interdicted Shell from continuing with the survey which kicked off on December 2.

Judge Gerald Bloem’s order. Image credit: @chrisyelland – twitter

Richard Spoor Attorneys and the Legal Resources Centre acting on behalf of the Dwesa-Cwebe, Amadiba, and Port Saint Johns communities, as well as environmental organisations, argued that Shell did not undertake the consultations which its own environmental management programme (EMPr) obliged it to take, that the risks of harm to marine life are real and not speculative, and that there was a reasonable apprehension that the blasting would do irreparable harm if the interim interdict was not granted. They argue that the court should have issued a rule nisi directing the parties to return to court for a more in-depth hearing, should have granted an interim interim interdict to stop Shell starting the seismic survey before that hearing, and should not have made a punitive costs order when they were acting in the public interest. Read more 

Shell and mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe were ordered to pay the legal costs of the application.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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