Shell’s Wild Coast exploration kicks off as survey vessel arrives

Posted by David Henning on 25 November 2021

News broke on 4 November 2021 that the Wild Coast of South Africa was earmarked for oil and gas exploration and that a Shell subsidiary was given exploration rights years ago. This venture swung into action when Shell’s survey vessel, the ‘Amazon Warrior,’ arrived on South Africa’s shores on Sunday, 21 November.

The Amazon Warrior as it departs Cape Towns Harbour. Picture: The Green Connection

This vessel’s arrival did not go by under the radar, and environmental NGO, The Green Connection and other activists, staged a demonstration where a group of people picketed at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront as the ship departed Cape Town’s harbour.

Demonstrators met up at 5:30 am to stage their demonstration, as the vessel left the harbour in the early hours of the morning. The ship is en route to the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast, where it is due to begin offshore seismic testing and surveys for oil and gas, between Morgan Bay and Port St Johns.

The survey is scheduled to last four to five months and cover 6 011km² of ocean surface. The department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE)  told the SABC that it was not yet in a position to comment on ‘Shell’s imminent seismic testing’ off the Wild Coast.

The DFFE’s chief director of communications, Albi Modise, commented that ‘during 2013, an application for exploration rights was approved by the then Minister responsible for the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.’ According to Modise, this means that the decision remains valid and binding until set aside on review by a court of law.

Picture: SABC

Environmental groups are concerned about the ecological implications the exploration will cause, with the survey vessel said to fire up to 48 air guns methodically, sending loud shock wave emissions that penetrate through 3km of water and 40km into the Earth’s crust below the seabed.

There are worries that this may also cause irreversible damage to a region of South Africa renowned for its pristine coastline. So far, a petition has gained more than 150 000 signatures as opposition towards the project grows.


Wild Coast oil and gas exploration raises serious questions



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