A research vessel from Russia has reportedly been prospecting for natural gas and oil in the Antarctic. It came and docked in SA on Saturday amid protests led by green campaigners stating that its operations in the region violate a treaty that bans mineral exploration.
Several members of the Extinction Rebellion environmental group had banners that read “Hands off Antarctica” as the polar explorer vessel Akademik Alexander Karpinsky reached as scheduled in Cape Town in the morning.
Several protesters from Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace recently demonstrated at the port, highlighting that the vessel’s seismic surveys in the Antarctic have threatened marine life in the zone and violated a 1958 international agreement.
A 1998 amendment to the 55-nation Antarctic Treaty, to which both SA and Russia are signatories, limits mineral extractions and explorations in the region.
RosGeo, the state-owned Russian exploration firm that operates the Akademik Alexander Karpinsky, mentions it has been conducting research in the designated part of Antarctica in Russia. It has been doing so since 1970 to explore hydrocarbons.
Per the official RosGeos website, the designated area’s hydrocarbon potential is estimated at approximately 70 billion tons.
Cassie Goodman, an Extinction Rebellion representative, mentioned that the government was complicit in environmental damages by permitting the ship from Russia to dock.
Cyril Ramaphosa’s government maintains cordial relations with Russia. On the other hand, SA claims to be impartial about the Ukraine conflict. It has abstained from voting on the UN resolutions about war.
Earlier this week, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visited SA, and the two nations with China are preparing to conduct a military exercise on the east coast around February 17 up to February 27.
References: The Hindu, BusinessLive
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