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Shell’s Delayed Court Battle in South Africa – Because Who Needs Pristine Coasts Anyway?

Posted by John Donovan: 18 October 2023

Oh, the audacity of those pesky environmentalists and their legal battles! It seems that Shell’s grand plan to explore for oil and gas off South Africa’s Wild Coast has hit a little snag, but who cares about the environment when there’s money to be made, right?

The court case, which was supposed to determine whether Shell can turn a beautiful, untouched piece of the world into its personal playground, has been conveniently delayed until next year. How considerate! Ricky Stone, the lawyer for environmentalists from Greenpeace Africa and Natural Justice, revealed, “It doesn’t seem like it (hearing) will be this year and will likely be heard in the first term of 2024 only.” Because, you know, protecting the environment can wait.

Shell, always the caring neighbor, wants to overturn a decision by the Makanda High Court that had the audacity to prevent it from exploring in this environmentally sensitive area. Exploration was approved back in 2014 by the then-energy minister, and we all know that decisions from nearly a decade ago are always the best decisions.

But of course, those pesky environmentalists and coastal communities just can’t seem to see the bigger picture. They’re protesting against Shell’s plans for seismic surveys, claiming that its underwater acoustics might be harmful to marine animals. How inconsiderate of them to prioritize marine life over corporate profits!

Let’s not forget the impact on fishing and other practices. But who needs those, right? Shell is on a mission, and nothing will stand in its way.

And why all this fuss, you might ask? Well, it seems that the discovery of gas fields off South Africa’s east coast in 2019 got everyone excited. The High Court ruling last September nullified decisions granting exploration rights to Impact Africa, a local unit of Impact Oil and Gas, in the offshore Transkei and Algoa areas. But no worries, Shell is right there with Impact, holding a cozy 50% stake in the Transkei and Algoa blocks.

According to Ricky Stone, this is a massive case, and the entire sector is hanging in the balance. But what’s a little environmental concern when there are profits to be made, right?

In court papers before the Supreme Court of Appeal, both the energy minister and Shell are claiming that the High Court made some minor errors. Like allowing a review application to be lodged beyond a 180-day time limit – how unreasonable of them!

As always, Shell is invited to point out any factual inaccuracies, though we doubt they’ll find any – after all, it’s hard to argue with satire that’s rooted in reality.


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