A petition to stop the operation has been launched by non-profit organization Oceans Not Oil.
Oil giant Shell has announced a three-dimensional (3D) seismic survey off the East Coast of South Africa to search for oil and gas.
The five-month oil operation is slated to kick-off on 1 December.
A vessel operated by Shell Exploration and Production SA’s hirelings, Shearwater GeoServices, will allegedly drag 48 air guns systematically through 6 011km² of ocean surface located roughly between Port St Johns and Morgans Bay.
The survey area will be at least 20km from the shore and will cover water depths between 700m and 3,000m.
As part of the survey procedure, air guns will produce loud shock waves (seismic waves) that are able to penetrate through 3km of water and 40km into the Earth’s crust below the seabed.
These shock waves will reflect off subsurface deposits, resurface and get recorded by receivers called geophones.
Recorded geophone information in turn will help a geophysicist to develop a 3D image of the subsurface, which will help in identifying oil or gas reserves.
However, Shell’s alleged plans to blast through the Wild Coast in search of untouched oil and gas reserves has enraged environmentalists and marine activists, since the expedition is likely to destroy habitats and harm marine animals including dolphins, seals, penguins, sharks and even crabs and tiny shellfish.
Moreover, it is set to take place during whale migration season, which will critically threaten the species.
East London museum scientists Kevin Cole told Daily Maverick that airguns produce a continuous underwater noise (greater than 230 decibels) day and night for months and this will have a negative impact on marine life evolved to rely on sound as a primary sense in the dark oceanic environment.
“Marine animals are highly sensitive to acoustic sound,” Cole said.
“Marine fish and mammals depend on sound for communicating with group members and young, food-finding, reproduction, avoiding predators and hazards, navigation and sensing their environment.”.
South African public’s voice against offshore oil and gas development, Oceans Not Oil, said: “At a time when world leaders are making promises and decisions to step away from fossil fuels because climate science has shown we cannot burn our existing reserves (let alone drill for more), offshore oil and gas Operation Phakisa is pushing ever harder to get its hands on a local supply of gas.
“Shell must answer for how the harms done during this survey and any exploration drilling done hereafter are part of its energy transition plan to control global warming.”
In order to stop the survey, the Oceans Not Oil coalition has launched a petition calling on Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries to withdraw the approval of the application.
You can sign the petition here.
Share this story: Shell to launch an oil drilling exploration endangering countless marine animals.
QUIZ: Take this personality test and we’ll reveal if you’re a Junk Food Vegan or a Health Food Vegan