CAPE TOWN - Petroleum giant Shell says an Environmental Compliance audit undertaken last year by independent specialists showed that the controls and mitigation measures for its controversial seismic survey off the Wild Coast, were sufficient and valid.
This after hundreds of environmental activists and concerned residents from across the city protested outside the Cape Town harbour at the V&A Waterfront on Sunday against the arrival of the Amazon Warrior ship.
The ship was commissioned by Shell to conduct a seismic survey in search of oil and gas deposits between Morgan’s Bay and Port St Johns off the Wild Coast, starting on December 1.
More than 145 000 people have already signed a petition calling on the South African government to withdraw its approval.
Activists say the high noise blasting of sonar canons under water for seismic testing was a direct threat to whales, dolphins, fish and marine life.
They also say it is a threat to the livelihood of communities along the Wild Coast who use the riches of the sea to put food on the table, and provide an income for their homes.
Shell Downstream South Africa (Pty) Corporate Reputation and Media Relations spokesperson Pam Ntaka, said a full stakeholder consultation process was undertaken as part of the development of the Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) for this project in 2013.
“Furthermore, the Environmental Authorisation was obtained for this project in 2014,” Ntaka said.
“An Environmental Compliance audit was undertaken in 2020 by independent specialists to confirm that the controls and mitigation measures outlined in the EMPr were still sufficient and valid.
“The audit report confirmed that these requirements were still sufficient and valid for this project to be taken forward. We can confirm we are operating within our legal right and we believe we have met all our obligations concerning the survey,” Ntaka said.
Shell had a long experience in collecting seismic data and the welfare of wildlife was a major factor in the stringent controls it uses, strictly following the international guidelines of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, she added.
“We take great care to prevent or minimize impacts on fish, marine mammals and other wildlife. This is an exercise to collect data to help us understand if there is oil/gas or not. This is not a drilling exercise,” Ntaka said.
“In order for us to provide the energy that the world needs today, we must ensure we have a strong project funnel and resilient future development opportunities. Shell is deeply committed to South Africa as an energy partner of choice and will continue to partner with government regarding our country’s Just Energy Transition.”