Shell cancels seismic survey off South African coast

Royal Dutch Shell has cancelled its contract with Shearwater GeoServices for the use of the seismic vessel Amazon Warrior (IMO 9662394) off the coast of South Africa. The company recently lost a court battle with local indigenous rights activists.

Shell said to Bloomberg that “as legal hearings about the survey are not yet completed and the weather window for conducting the work is limited, Shell has decided to terminate the current contract for the survey vessel early, in agreement with the contractor”.

Shell had a government-issued permit to conduct the seismic survey, along with a court decision that backed the project. Work began in early December 2021, but on December 28th Shell lost a second high court case brought by activists and indigenous groups in Makhanda. In that decision Judge Gerald Bloem said that Shell had not adequately consulted communities with customary fishing rights in the area. Judge Bloem said that, since meaningful consultation with affected communities was a legal requirement, the judge determined that Shell’s exploration license was “unlawful and invalid” and ordered a halt to the campaign.

The firm and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy were also ordered pay the plaintiff’s legal costs.

After the decision, a Shell spokesperson told Reuters that “we respect the court’s decision and have paused the survey while we review the judgement.”

Amazon Warrior arrived off the coast of East London, South Africa on November 29th and loitered in the area until December 31st, spending most of its time at low speed on a racetrack course. It then headed for Cape Town, before departing on January 4th for Las Palmas, ETA January 18th.

2014-built, Panama-flagged, 21,195 gt Amazon Warrior is owned by Shearwater Geoservices Assets care of manager Reflection Marine UK Ltd of Gatwick, UK. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of Shearwater GeoServices Assets V AS.