Shell and Total Energy in South Africa .. A new exploration attempt despite the rejection

South Africa’s Shell and Total Energy are embarking on a new bid for offshore oil exploration, despite legal obstacles and local resistance the Anglo-Dutch company faced late last year.

Shell had faced legal resistance from local communities, which prevented it from continuing its exploration off the southern coast, under accusations of harming freedom of life and disrupting fishing.

These legal measures prompted the suspension of the seismic survey that Shell was preparing to conduct last December.

The Australian company, Searcher Sismic, also decided not to continue exploration work off the west coast of the country; After she was banned by a court ruling last month from continuing her activity.

Shell and Total Energy activity in South Africa

South Africa’s Shell and Total Energy are planning to drill off the southwest coast, as part of their exploration and exploration for oil on the African continent.

To avoid a repeat of domestic and legal rejection of exploration attempts and seismic surveys in South Africa late last year, Total Energy and Shell called for public meetings to discuss the proposed drilling programme.

Shell and Total Energy in South Africa
A joint venture between Shell and Total Energy – Image via Energy Connects

Shell and Total Energy, a few days ago, assigned SLR Consulting the task of starting an environmental impact assessment of the proposed exploration program plans, according to the South African Business Tech newspaper.

SLR is preparing a database to monitor project stakeholders, and plans to announce its developments in May.

Shell and Total Energy’s plans include exploration of 10,000 square kilometres, within an offshore oil block between the capital Cape Town and coastal Cape Agulhas.

The square extends for a distance of 60 to 170 nautical kilometers, with a water depth ranging from 700 meters to 3.2 kilometers, according to the US Bloomberg Agency.

The partnership plan between Shell and Total Energy in South Africa includes the Cape Town government’s oil and gas company obtaining a stake in the partnership, the amount of which has not yet been disclosed by the two companies.

Exploration Challenges

Despite the continent’s need for foreign investments in oil and gas, the sector faces challenges that may lead to the termination of exploration and production plans.

Shell and Total Energy in South Africa
Environmental opposition threatens Shell and Total Energy projects in South Africa – Photo from Greenpeace website

And oil exploration was not the only victim of domestic and legal resistance in South Africa, as it also extended to gas fields.

Last month, the South African Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority gave the French company Total Energy until next September to present plans to develop the huge gas discovery in Prolpada and Loyberd.

The authority threatened that the French company might lose the project development licenses, and that the development of the square and the two fields would be re-offered to receive bids.

As for Shell, late last year December witnessed the height of the dispute over drilling off the country’s coast.

Although Shell obtained a court ruling from a Cape Town High Court to dismiss environmental claims to halt seismic surveys and preliminary exploration work to begin drilling, the matter developed rapidly.

Following the court ruling, environmental and local demonstrations took place to denounce the Anglo-Dutch company’s continuation of seismic surveys, stressing the threat of these works to marine life, despite Shell’s assertion that it had obtained regulatory approvals for its work, which is in the interest of the South African oil sector, as it announced at the time.

The dispute ended – at the end of December – with a new court ruling that violated the ruling issued at the beginning of the month, preventing the company from continuing its activity near the Wild Coast.

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