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Activists descend on Shell service stations


Activists descend on Shell service stations

Lisa Steyn: 11 Dec 2021

  • Demonstrators descended on Shell-branded service stations on Saturday in protest of the oil and gas giant’s seismic survey off the Wild Coast.
  • Activists organisations have called on government to listen to the voices of the people of South Africa
  • Traditional fishing leaders have hit back at the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy’s “simplistic dismissal” of the objections to Shell’s planned activity.

Demonstrations coordinated by nine activist organisations took place at Shell-branded service stations as well as some beaches across the country to protest the oil and gas giant’s seismic surveying of waters along the Wild Coast.

The activist organisations have called upon members of the public, fuel distributors and other businesses to boycott Shell until such time as they cancel their seismic surveying along the pristine coastline.

“This seismic surveying will not only be potentially irreparably damaging to various marine species, but could also reduce fishing stocks,” the organisations said in a statement. “If successful in finding fossil fuels, our Wild Coast marine ecosystems and the many livelihoods that rely on them will be under threat, particularly given that Shell and other oil and gas companies have extremely poor track records of socio-environmentally safe operations in other countries in Africa and around the world.”

They said any development of oil and gas resources will also take SA further from the already difficult target of net-zero emissions, or carbon neutrality,  by 2050 – something which must be achieved for the world to escape the worst impacts of climate change.

The demonstrations come after activists failed to obtain an urgent interdict of Shell’s survey. The Makhanda High Court found insufficient evidence had been provided to prove the survey would cause irreparable environmental harm. It also ordered the applicants play the costs of Shell legal counsel.

Another, separate interdict application has brought by fishing communities along the Wild Coast on the basis that Shell has no valid environmental authorisation in terms of current legislation. The matter will be heard next week.

The environmental organisations on Saturday demanded that the government tell the truth about the climate emergency, and act immediately. “To allow Shell and other oil and gas companies free licence to continue to desecrate and exploit our shores, particularly with their poor history of such activities in other countries, is to willingly ignore the voices of the people of South Africa, and to actively endorse a colonial attack on our country, both through the direct impact of seismic surveying and fossil fuel extraction, and through the unfolding impacts of the climate crisis,” the activists said.

Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, last week threw his weight behind Shell when he described the objection to oil and gas developments “as apartheid and colonialism of a special type, masqueraded as a great interest for environmental protection”.

In an open letter to the Minister, penned by traditional fishing leaders, they rejected Mantashe’s “simplistic dismissal” of the resistance to Shell. “This is not about the West telling Africans what to do. We as Africans have seen what Shell has done to the livelihoods of Nigerians and Ghanaian communities. We choose a future for our children that is climate safe, where they will not be starving because we have destroyed our natural resources.”


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