Makhanda High Court expected to deliver judgment on Shell seismic survey case

Four organisations, including environmental groups, have filed an urgent court bid to slam the brakes on oil and gas company, Shell, carrying out these tests, citing irreparable harm to the marine environment.

FILE: A woman rides her bicycle past the Shell Pernis site in Rotterdam on 30 July 2020. Picture: Robin Utrecht/AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Makhanda High Court is expected to deliver judgment in the Shell seismic survey case on Friday.

Four organisations, including environmental groups, have filed an urgent court bid to slam the brakes on the oil and gas company carrying out these tests, citing irreparable harm to the marine environment.

During the survey, the seismic vessel, the Amazon Warrior, will discharge pressurised air from its airgun that generates sound waves, directed towards the seabed.

Shell has argued that the vessel conducting these tests for potential oil and gas extraction, is on its way to the location to commence with the seismic data acquisition, saying that a delay at this stage would cause irreparable harm to the company and its partners.

But Katherine Robinson, head of campaigns at human rights and environmental law group Natural Justice said that many interested parties were not informed of the seismic testing.

"The decision-making process amounts to unjust administrative action since interested and affected parties were not informed of the granting of the exploration right or given an opportunity to appeal it. The public was also not notified of the two applications to renew the exploration right," Robinson said.

Depending on the weather, current and sea conditions, the seismic data acquisition has been scheduled from 1 December and is set to last for around four months.