Ecological victory: South Africa bans Shell from drilling oil, gas
A Makhanda court upholds a ban on Royal Dutch Shell's environmentally harmful drilling of oil and gas off the South African coast.
A South African court in Makhanda upheld a ban on Shell using seismic waves to explore oil and gas off the coast engulfed by the Indian Ocean. In late December, a South African court halted oil giant Shell's seismic testing for oil and gas along the country's eastern coastline, pending a final ruling, which was reached today.
Many South Africans have been protesting since late 2021 against Shell's offshore activities, arguing that seismic waves would cause significant damage to marine life and the environment, harming local communities which have lived off and relied on the sea for centuries. The 250km stretch of coastline in Eastern Cape Province is known for its natural beauty and rich ecosystem.
The court's decision marks a significant victory for environmentalists and communities who have been vocal against the exploration, citing its detrimental impacts on whales, dolphins, seals and more.
Press release: Communities celebrate as Court sets aside Shell’s exploration right off the Wild Coast of South Africa ✊🌿🐟— Natural Justice (@naturaljustice) September 1, 2022
Thank you to the communities and partner NGOs for their incredible commitment to this case. https://t.co/y9n2gNJK8E pic.twitter.com/GEyTkUv0Er
The court ruled that the 2014 decision which gives corporations the right for the “exploration of oil and gas in the Transkei and Algoa exploration areas is reviewed and set aside."
Civil rights organizations as well as environmentalist organizations applauded the decision, celebrating outside the courthouse after the verdict was announced, according to local media.
A Royal Dutch Shell spokesperson said that the company "respect[s] the court's decision" and would review it to "determine our next steps," not revealing whether they will appeal the decision or not.
Reeling in the government's opinion regarding Shell's plans to drill oil, South Africa's Ministry of Energy supported the plan and slammed opposers, deeming them obstructive to the country's development.
In late December, a South African court halted oil giant Shell's seismic testing for oil and gas along the country's eastern coastline. Shell, in response, withdrew its vessel - ironically named the Amazon Warrior.
"As coastal communities, we have relied on the sea for centuries - and we are glad that the judge has recognized that our ocean livelihoods must not be sacrificed for short-term profit," said local campaigner Nonhle Mbuthuma.