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September 2, 2022

South African court prohibits offshore exploration by Shell

The ruling stated that the coastal communities were not properly consulted prior to the issuance of the permit for exploration.

A South African court has prohibited Shell from offshore oil and gas exploration along the ecologically sensitive Wild Coast region in the Eastern Cape province, citing concerns over the seismic waves’ impact on marine life.

Makhanda high court Judge President Mbenenge’s ruling stated that authorisation was granted to Shell without proper consultation with coastal communities.

The decision upheld a ban imposed on Shell from using seismic waves for oil and gas exploration off the Indian Ocean coast.

In December 2021, the Makhanda high court issued an interim order prohibiting further activities by Shell in the area.

The authorisation granted to Shell in 2014 for oil and gas exploration in the Transkei and Algoa areas is being reviewed and kept aside by the court, according to an AFP news report published in the Economic Times.

The case was filed by Sustaining the Wild Coast NPC, Wild Coast communities, Wild Coast small-scale fishers, and All Rise Attorneys for Climate and the Environment NPC.

Greenpeace Africa and Natural Justice also joined the case, which sought to review the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s decision to grant exploration right to Shell and Impact Africa in 2019.

Another applicant and a Wild Coast resident Siyabonga Ndovela was quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying: “As Wild Coast people, we live off the land and the ocean. [The] government tells us that oil and gas will bring job opportunities but we know very well that this will destroy our livelihoods.”

A Shell spokesperson stated that the firm respects the court’s decision and would review the judgement to determine the next steps, reported AFP.

The spokesperson added: “We remain committed to South Africa and our role in the just energy transition.”

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