Court halts Shell seismic survey plan in key ruling


Johannesburg – The High Court in Makhanda on Tuesday blocked Shell from using seismic waves to explore for oil and gas in the Indian Ocean, handing a landmark victory to environmentalists worried about the impact on whales and other species.

Backing a suit filed by conservationists and local groups, the court declared Shell was “interdicted from undertaking seismic survey operations”, a decision that has immediate effect.

Consultations with coastal communities has been “substantially flawed”, and this made Shell’s survey application “unlawful and invalid”, said Judge Gerald Bloem.

The fossil-fuel giant had planned to start exploration over more than 6,000 square kilometres of ocean off South Africa’s Wild Coast – a 300km stretch of natural beauty dotted with marine and nature reserves.

“We respect the court’s decision and have paused the survey while we review the judgment,” said a Shell spokesperson.

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