Cape Town protest adds fuel to the Shell seismic survey furore

Aaron-Luke Rielly was among protesters who picketed Shell garage Paradise Motors, in Newlands, Cape Town, on December 4 2021.
Aaron-Luke Rielly was among protesters who picketed Shell garage Paradise Motors, in Newlands, Cape Town, on December 4 2021.
Image: Philani Nombembe

More than 100 people banged pots and brandished placards in front of a Shell garage in Cape Town on Saturday in protest against the company’s intentions to conduct a seismic survey off the Wild Coast.

Shell’s intentions have sparked an uproar among environmentalists and the public. Andrew Chin, one of the protesters, said no cars filled up at the Newlands garage during the two hours of picketing.

“For the last two hours there have been no cars coming into Shell at Paradise Motors,” said Chin.

“The idea is to take this to other garages and hit Shell. We are sorry for the franchisees and the people that work there. They are suffering from corporate action which is not their fault. But the only way to get Shell is to hit them in the pocket.”

Aaron-Luke Rielly echoed Chin’s sentiments. “We are in a climate crisis at the moment,” he said.

“The climate is changing and it is having a terrible impact on people and communities  and now Shell is trying to get more oil and gas which is only going to make the climate worse. We are saying they must stop exploring for more oil and gas.”

Glen Tyler-Davies said: “We want climate justice. The people who are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis need to make sure that energy is renewable. We should stop funding oil and gas.”

Motorists showed support for the protesters by hooting. Petrol attendants watching the picket said they were not allowed to comment. The garage looked deserted while a handful of police officers stood at a distance.

In a statement, the NGO Extinction Rebellion Cape Town urged “fuel distributors and other businesses to boycott Shell until such a time as they cancel their imminent seismic surveying of the water of SA’s pristine Wild Coast”.

It added: “Due to its impact on marine ecosystems, seismic surveying has also been known to reduce fish stocks in areas where it is used.

“Studies have shown a between 40% and 80% reduction in fish stocks in areas hit by surveying, which arguably contributed to the US ban of the practice along its eastern seaboard in 2019.

“Shell’s planned exploitation of the Wild Coast seems indicative of a trend which sees countries in the global north locally banning damaging practices once their harmful effects become impossible to ignore, while actively promoting the very same practices in the global south.”

The NGO said this is the time to leave “fossil fuels in the ground”.

“SA’s utter dependence on coal means we are already well behind required action to limit global warming to 2°C, and a fresh batch of fossil fuel extraction will make that target less and less attainable,” it said.

“By encouraging a boycott of Shell, we also seek to send a message directly to the government of SA: We as South Africans do not accept the continued exploitation of our people and the ecosystems within which we exist, and upon which many of us directly rely, by foreign profiteers.

“It is your duty as our representatives to put an immediate stop to Shell’s activity within our borders. We should not have to boycott businesses for desecrating our home, that is your job. Now, do your job.”


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