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Shell Digs Deeper: The Quest for More Profits at the Expense of the South Africa Wild Coast

Posted by John Donovan: 10 June 2024

In a shocking display of corporate greed and utter disregard for the environment, Shell, the infamous oil giant known for its ruthless pollution tactics, is hell-bent on drilling for oil and gas off the South Africa Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

This week, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) upheld a ruling by the high court in Makhanda, ordering Shell to pause its voracious plans until it has “sufficiently consulted” the communities that will be directly impacted. Because, you know, consulting the locals whose lives you’re about to wreck is apparently an afterthought for Shell.

“It is not in dispute that neither the public was given notice of the decisions or informed of the right to appeal. The failure to do so, which is unexplained on the papers, is subversive of the procedural entitlements of the appellants,” reads the SCA judgment.

The court didn’t hold back on blasting the Petroleum Agency of South Africa and Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe for their epic failure to inform affected parties about the exploration rights. “It can hardly be in dispute that impact was required to meaningfully consult with the communities and individuals that would be affected by the seismic blasting,” the judgment continued, hammering home the point that Shell apparently missed in their mad dash for more profits.

Naturally, the court has now mandated a do-over on the consultation process, this time ensuring that all communications are actually in isiXhosa and isiMpondo, the languages spoken by the people whose lives are hanging in the balance.

Let’s not forget the sheer beauty of the Wild Coast, an unspoiled paradise stretching from the Mtamvuma River to the Great Kei River. But in 2021, Shell decided it was the perfect spot for a seismic survey to hunt for gas and oil deposits, a move that triggered massive opposition from local communities, environmentalists, and land rights activists. Because, of course, nothing says “we care” like risking ecological disaster for a bit more crude.

Shell’s spokesperson Pam Ntaka had the gall to say they “respect the ruling.” Oh, how magnanimous! “We welcome the court’s direction that the exploration right remains valid, subject to further public consultation and the renewal application,” she said, probably while sipping champagne in a high-rise office far from the Wild Coast.

She went on about Shell’s grand plans to “reshape the downstream portfolio” and divest from Shell Downstream South Africa as if that’s supposed to make everyone feel better about the impending environmental catastrophe.

Meanwhile, Shell and its cronies at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, along with Impact Africa, have been busy appealing the high court ruling. Their argument? That they had done enough public consultation and that issues like heritage rights and climate change were just pesky details that didn’t need consideration.

Activists and environmentalists are, understandably, not thrilled with the SCA judgment. “This judgment trumps the constitutional environmental rights of people to a safe and healthy environment,” said Sinegugu Zukulu from Sustaining the Wild Coast, summing up the collective frustration of everyone who cares about the planet.

In conclusion, Shell’s relentless pursuit of profit at the cost of communities and the environment is a masterclass in corporate callousness. And the saga of the Wild Coast continues, with Shell’s drill bit ever ready to pierce the heart of this pristine coastline.

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