Shell wins court ruling, to start seismic survey offshore South Africa

Paul Burkhardt 12/3/2021

(Bloomberg) --A South African court has ruled that Royal Dutch Shell Plc can proceed with a seismic survey offshore the East Coast, after dismissing a legal application by activist groups.

Greenpeace was among organizations that filed an urgent court interdict this week to block the activity, used in the search for oil and gas resources, claiming it’s linked to decreased sightings of marine life and lower catch rates for commercial fishing. Shell argued that it fulfilled regulatory obligations and that similar studies have already been conducted in South African waters.

The assertion of irreparable harm to the marine environment was “speculative at best,” High Court Judge Avinash Govindjee said in the decision broadcast online. He noted “palpable” public interest in the case.

The defeat for the activists in South Africa follows a victory for environmental groups against Shell in the UK, where the company pulled out of the proposed Cambo development.  

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