Green groups launch legal bid to stop Total’s oil drilling in South Africa

(Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Environmental groups filed a court bid to block TotalEnergies’ oil exploration activity in South Africa, the latest spat between activists who support the elimination of fossil fuel use and energy companies operating in the region.

The Green Connection and Natural Justice submitted a review application with the High Court of South Africa to prevent the French major from drilling wells in the waters off Cape Town, the groups said in a statement. 

The government last April granted the company authorisation to drill as many as five wells in the area, known as Block 5/6/7. The groups argue that an environmental impact assessment report needed for the permission failed to comply with requirements.

TotalEnergies didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.   

Organisations and local communities have stepped up opposition to oil and gas exploration in South Africa through court action and protests, while Total has made discoveries in other offshore areas of the country and in neighbouring Namibia.

Activists won a case against Shell in 2021 to block seismic activity off South Africa’s Wild Coast region along with other victories against such surveys.

Total has maintained its interest in the country, buying an operating interest in another block known as 3B/4B earlier this month. South African Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has supported the development of oil and gas, criticising organisations that oppose it.

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