Greenpeace Fire Seismic Blasts At Shell Headquarters To Demonstrate Why Seismic Testing In Transkei Would Be Rather Annoying For Local Ecosystem - Stab Mag

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Greenpeace Fire Seismic Blasts At Shell Headquarters To Demonstrate Why Seismic Testing In Transkei Would Be Rather Annoying For Local Ecosystem

Tit for tat.

elsewhere // Dec 13, 2021
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 2 minutes

A couple of weeks ago we wrote a story, What Is Shell Doing In The Transkei?

Long story short, Shell, the multinational, multibillion dollar oil and gas company decided to conduct a three-dimensional (3D) offshore seismic survey from Morgan Bay to Port St Johns on South Africa’s ‘Wild Coast’, to map potential deposits of oil and gas under the seabed. 

Seismic surveying, for those who don’t know, involves blasting the seafloor with high-powered airguns (a kind of powerful horn) every 10 seconds and measuring the echoes with long tubes to map offshore oil and gas reserves. Blasts can exceed 200 decibels and are thought to be detectable by whales more than 100kms away. The vessel named Amazon Warrior, which is conducting the seismic survey on behalf of the oil company, has 48 air guns.

For reference, a thunderclap is around 120 db, the human pain threshold for sound is around 130 db, and a rocket launch is around 180 db. So yes, the expected ~220db will be fucking loud, akin to having a bomb go off in your room every 10 seconds. Several studies have shown seismic testing reduces cetacean (whales) wildlife sightings, and interfere with echolocation perception in many marine species.

Needless to say, not everyone was stoked about Shell’s proposal. 

430,000 people have thus far signed a petition objecting to it, and several public demonstrations have since taken place in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, and the Netherlands. Greenpeace, the international environmental conservation organisation’s latest demonstration aimed to give Shell employees a taste of their own medicine by firing whale and dolphin calls at high volume at their plexiglass headquarters in the Netherlands.

Funny? Absolutely. Effective? Not really – Shell operations still have the green light.

This past week, the South African Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe slammed what he called “unrelenting attacks” on oil and gas development in South Africa aimed to thwart economic growth and deepen unemployment in the country.

“We consider the objections to these developments as apartheid and colonialism of a special type, masqueraded as a great interest for environmental protection,” Mantashe said at a press briefing. Mantashe said that the country’s economic development is oppressed in the name of environmental protection and he appealed to objectors to acknowledge this and allow the exploitation of its natural resources “for the benefit of its citizens”.

For this survey Shell has partnered with Impact, a privately owned oil and gas exploration company, dedicated to discovering new potential in underexplored sedimentary basins offshore Africa. Impact CEO Siraj Ahmed welcomed the closing of the deal. “We look forward to working with Shell to build on the considerable work done to date and further explore this exciting exploration province,” he said.

“This transaction, and the proposed 3D seismic acquisition programme, enables Impact to deliver on its objective of accelerating the exploration of the transform margin of the South African Natal Trough, which Impact believes has significant potential.” Both companies will share a 50% stake in the operations profits.

You can read more about Shell’s proposal here.


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