Shell given go-ahead for seismic survey by South African high court

Posted by Taylah Strauss on 3 December 2021

The South African high court has given Shell the go-ahead for its seismic survey off the Eastern Cape coast. This comes after numerous environmental activists and human rights organisations filed an urgent interdict to block the seismic survey, citing the detrimental effects such a survey would have on the largely untouched Wild Coast.

READ: Wild Coast oil and gas exploration raises serious questions

The judge who delivered the ruling, Judge Avinash Govindjee at the Eastern Cape Division of the Makhanda High Court stated that Shell has provided relevant details on the compliance and that mitigation measures would be set in place for the survey. ‘Given the paucity of information as to the likelihood of environmental harm, the balance of convenience favours Shell,’ he stated.

According to Govindjee, the applicants failed to provide sufficient evidence of irreversible harm from seismic surveys. ‘Upon consideration of the affidavits as a whole according to facts and probabilities, the outcomes are the same and I must exercise discretion to reject the application.’

In Shell’s answering affidavit to the interdict application, the company defends its seismic survey project, stating that:

-that there is no evidence that sound from properly mitigated seismic surveys has had any significant impact on marine populations [Para 33] and that it is not true that the sounds waves used during the seismic surveys will cause extremely loud underwater sounds [paras 54 and 55],

-the exclusion zone of 500 m around the sound source guarantees that no animals will come into the vicinity of the sound source” [para 68].

The organisations that drafted the certificate calling for the interdict are the Border Deep Sea Angling Association, the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club, the Natural Justice and even Greenpeace Africa.

Shell spokesperson Pam Ntaka stated in an interview with Fin24 that the oil and gas giant has conducted sufficient research, and is confident in the measures put in place to minimise potential impacts on marine life: ‘We have conducted an environmental study in line with regulatory requirements and obtained legal permits to carry out the activity.’

Picture: Getaway gallery


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