South Africa

Oil rig on route to South Africa’s litigious coast

A rig hired by Eco Atlantic Oil and Gas and partners is headed for waters off South Africa, where a surge of legal moves to block fossil-fuel exploration has taken place.

Community and environmental activists have blocked two seismic surveys through lawsuits since December, including one commissioned by Shell. The groups have cited risks to marine life and criticized consultation processes.

South Africa’s energy minister has encouraged the quest for oil and gas in a country that lacks significant domestic output. Other government officials have pressed for a quicker move toward cleaner energy sources, with the planned transition including using gas, which along with oil is primarily imported by the nation.

Eco Atlantic’s Gazania-1 prospect is targeting a 300-million-barrel light-oil resource in Block 2B, 25 kilometres offshore the Northern Cape Province, the company said Friday. The Island Innovator rig is expected to arrive and start the well, subject to weather conditions, by the end of September. It’s currently offshore the coast of Norway, according to Bloomberg ship tracking data.

Other oil explorers also remain undeterred. Searcher Seismic, which called off an earlier search due to a court challenge, is planning another.

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