South Africa: Shell Determined to Pursue Seismic Exploration Ambitions Off South Africa’s Wild Coast

Oil giant is appealing cancellation of permit to explore for oil in the ecologically rich waters.

On the southern coast of Africa, local community groups and environmental activists have been celebrating a significant legal victory over a major oil player.

In September a South African court prohibited Shell’s controversial plan to conduct seismic exploration for oil and gas deposits off the Wild Coast in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. But, the battle is far from over, Shell is appealing the ruling, and it has the resources and government support to take the case through the country’s court system to get the decision it’s after.

For the moment though, the advantage lies with the anti-drilling activists.

“We stand for human environmental rights and this [Shell’s planned exploration] was illegal as we, the local communities, were not consulted,” said Sinegugu Zukulu, who is a programme manager at the environmental nonprofit Sustaining Wild Coast (SWC), one of the many local groups that filed two lawsuits contesting the permit.

The suits argued that Shell hadn’t adequately consulted with impacted communities, nor had it conducted a required environmental impact assessment of underwater seismic testing in the region.

The Wild Coast is a famous migratory path…