Court Halts Shell Seismic Exploration Along Wild Coast

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The High Court in Makhanda, Eastern Cape, on Tuesday granted the interdict against Shell conducting a seismic survey along the Wild Coast.

The court action was brought on behalf of communities in this area who would have been affected by Shell’s activities.

The court ordered, “the third, fourth and fifth respondents be and are hereby interdicted from undertaking seismic survey operations under Exploration Right 12/3/252 pending the finalisation of Part B of the notice of motion”

In addition, the court ordered that “the first and fifth respondents shall pay the costs of the application for an interim interdict, jointly and severally the one paying the other to be absolved, such costs to include the costs attendant upon the employment of three counsel, where so employed”.

In that regard, Shell and South Africa’s minister of mineral resources and energy will bear the costs.

“The application is postponed sine die for the determination of the relief sought under Part B of the notice of motion,” said the court.

Shell, which already has all permission from the relevant state authorities, had intended to start exploring for oil and gas along South Africa’s Wild Coast on 1 December.

In the first court matter heard in the High Court in Makhanda, Shell successfully argued that the urgent application to stop its seismic testing along the Wild Coast was nothing short of abusive.

Shell argued that there had been some 325 similar surveys conducted around the world without any deaths or irreversible harm to marine life.

Judge Avinash Govindjee dismissed the urgent application brought by Greenpeace Africa, Border Deep Sea Angling Association, Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club, and Natural Justice for an interdict to stop Shell from beginning its seismic survey

However, another court action was launched soon after Shell’s victory.

Richard Spoor Attorneys together with the Legal Resources Centre representing Sustaining The Wild Coast, Mashona Wetu Dlamini, Dwesa-Cwebe Communal property Association, Ntshindisk Nongcavu, Sazise Maxwell Pekayo, Cameron Thorpe, All Rise Attorneys for Climate and the Environment NPC, launched their court battle to stop Shell’s seismic survey.

On Tuesday the High Court in Makhanda issued an interdict stopping the exploration.

Judge Gerald Bloem said that Shell was under a duty to meaningfully consult with the communities and individuals who would be impacted by the seismic survey.

He said based on the evidence provided, Shell failed to do so in the case of the applicant communities who hold customary rights, including fishing rights.

They also hold a special spiritual and cultural connection to the ocean.

“It was thus crucial for Shell to consult these communities and understand how the survey may impact upon them. They did not,” said the judge.

Thousands of people have signed petitions against the Shell seismic survey.

Shell, which had already started its exploration for gas and oil, could appeal the ruling.