Shell faces urgent interdict to halt Wild Coast seismic blasting

The Amazon Warrior.
The Amazon Warrior.
Image: pinterest

Shell faces an urgent interdict to stop it from seismic blasting on the ecologically sensitive and biodiverse Wild Coast.

A local deep sea angling club and ski-boat club have joined forces with two powerful international environmental and human rights agencies in a last-minute urgent high court bid to stop the Amazon Warrior from blasting an area from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns starting on today.

No matter the outcome of the court case being heard in the high court at 2pm in Makhanda, it will reverberate round the world.

National and international outrage at the proposed seismic search for oil and gas peaked this week as Shell’s ship, Amazon Warrior made its way from Cape Town to Morgan Bay.

Lawyers for the four organisation’s, Cullinan & Associates, will argue that the court should stop the blasting with immediate effect.

Border Deep Sea Angling Association (BDSAA) and the Kei Mouth Ski Boat Club together with human rights law agency Natural Justice and environmental warrior organisation, Greenpeace, want the court to stop Shell and related companies from undertaking seismic surveys under an exploration right obtained in 2013 and subsequently renewed.

Respondents include Shell Exploration and Production SA, Impact Africa, mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe and environmental minister Barbara Creecy.

The application is being brought both in the interest of the applicant organisations and in the public interest.

Shell and Impact Africa each own a 50% participation interest in the exploration right.

According to court papers, the seismic survey will have “very significant detrimental environmental impacts”.

It involves extremely loud underwater explosions or discharges (220 decibels) at intervals of 10 to 20 seconds for 24 hours a day for four to five months.

“The explosions or discharges are sufficiently strong to cause major disruption or damage to a large range of animals, including various fish species, marine mammals such as whales and dolphins, turtles, crustaceans and other creatures,” BDSAA president Tyrone Gower says in an affidavit.

“They are expected to kill the eggs of fish and squid that are carried southwards by the Mozambique current through the intended survey area.”

The area includes the ecologically sensitive stretch of ocean between Morgan Bay and Port St Johns.

The surveys will take place very close to several Marine Protected Areas and critical biodiversity areas.

The organisations only became aware of the planned survey activity in late October when SLR Consulting, acting on behalf of Shell, gave notice of the fossil fuel giant’s intention to start the 3D seismic survey today.

Counsel will today argue that the exploration right (ER) was awarded unlawfully in breach of the public’s rights.

It was also renewed twice since 2013 and it will be argued that both renewals were also unlawful and invalid.

The four organisations want the interdict to remain in place until the outcome of an application to set aside the ER and the renewals — which will likely be argued early next year.

It will be argued that Shell is required to undergo an environmental impact assessment before proceeding with such a potentially harmful practice.

Acting judge Avinash Govindjee ordered the respondents to file their notice to opposition and answering affidavits by 4pm yesterday.

DispatchLIVE has not seen the answering papers.



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