Shell court case prompts climate protest in Cape Town

Demonstrators argue seismic blasting activity will harm local marine life and disrupt fishing.
Image: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Protesters rallied in Cape Town on Saturday ahead of a court ruling on oil and gas exploration by Shell Plc.

Community groups in December won a temporary halt to the company’s seismic survey off South Africa, pending a decision on whether further environmental authorization is needed for the work to proceed. The case will reopen on Monday.

Demonstrators held signs that showed the Shell logo and read “stop all seismic blasting,” activity that they argue will harm local marine life and disrupt fishing, while the company maintains the practice has been well established and in line with industry standards.

Efforts to block such activity have gained momentum in South Africa, echoing a wider movement against oil and gas companies as the world transitions to cleaner fuels. A separate survey off the country’s western coast was blocked earlier this year after activists warned that the work would harm marine life.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy supports the exploitation of oil and gas, both of which are currently imported due to a lack of domestic production. France’s TotalEnergies SE is among companies hoping to develop gas discoveries made in the last few years.

Both Shell and TotalEnergies have also found oil in neighboring Namibia, in the offshore Orange Basin that extends over the maritime border.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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