A South African court on Tuesday blocked oil giant Shell from conducting a seismic survey along the country’s ecologically sensitive Wild Coast region in the Eastern Cape.
A group of environmental activists and communities approached the court, arguing that the seismic survey was dangerous to the marine environment and harmful to the communities that depend on the sea for their survival.
Judge Gerald Bloem of the Grahamstown High Court in Makhanda said in his ruling that Shell and South Africa’s Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe should have consulted in a meaningful manner with coastal communities.
He also ordered both Shell and the minister to pay the applicants’ legal costs.
“This is a great victory for communities in this area who would have been affected by Shell’s activities,” the Legal Resources Centre, a public interest law organization in South Africa which was part of the lawyers representing the applicants, said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, the Center for Environmental Rights described the ruling as both a “relief and joy in the environmental and climate justice community.”
In a statement, Shell said it respects the court’s decision and has suspended the survey while it reviews Tuesday’s judgment.
Shell said its planned 3D seismic survey off the Wild Coast region was aimed at exploring potential hydrocarbon reserves beneath the seabed.
“South Africa is currently highly reliant on energy imports for many of its energy needs. Should viable resources be found offshore, this could significantly contribute to South Africa’s energy security and the government’s economic development programs,” the oil giant said in a statement.
By Hassan Isilow in Johannesburg