Amazon Warrior leaves South Africa as Shell halts controversial survey

Oil major Shell has decided to terminate the current contract for the survey vessel Amazon Warrior after it had to halt its seismic survey activities along South Africa’s Wild Coast following a court decision.

The Amazon Warrior. Source: Shearwater Geoservices

According to the latest AIS data, Amazon Warrior has left South Africa and is currently on its way to Las Palmas, Spain. The 126-meter long vessel was supposed to acquire more than 6,000 sqkm of 3D seismic data offshore South Africa.

To remind, Shell kicked off the seismic survey activities in mid-December despite growing opposition from environmentalists and new court action., claiming that it had consulted all relevant communities on the operations.

However, on 28 December, the Grahamstown High Court in Makhanda ordered the immediate pause of the activities, stating that, based on evidence, Shell failed to consult with the communities and individuals who would be impacted by the survey.

Additionally, the oil major and the South African Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy were ordered to pay the costs of the application for the interim interdict.

“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,” a spokesperson from Shell said.

“We are looking ahead to a resolution of the outstanding legal case and are considering the best way forward for the licence in the longer term.”

To remind, the planned five-month seismic survey campaign has been facing strong opposition from environmentalists and fishermen who claim that it would harm marine life, especially since it would take place during the migration season for humpback whales.

Nevertheless, the court dismissed the 11th-hour legal challenge by environmental groups at the beginning of December, allowing the oil giant to go ahead with its planned activities along the country’s eastern coast.

Norwegian seismic exploration company Shearwater GeoServices is the owner of Amazon Warrior and was appointed in October 2021 to carry out the 3D seismic survey.

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