Are the Russians prospecting in Antarctica? 

Issued by Dave Bryant MP – DA Shadow Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment
07 Jun 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dave Bryant MP.

The DA has noted the response from Minister Barbara Creecy confirming that the South African government is opposed to alleged Russian energy prospecting in Antarctica. The Minister has confirmed in her response that “no prospecting activities should be taking place in the Antarctic region” and reaffirmed that this longstanding ban also applies to Russia.

The Minister has further stated however that it is her opinion that no evidence exists of Russian prospecting in Antarctica and therefore South Africa was not obligated to raise the issue at the recent Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Helsinki, Finland. The question has to be asked though: what then is ROSGEO, a Russian geological exploration group doing in Antarctica and why are Russian exploration ships being allowed to dock in South African harbours?

The Antarctic region is a very delicate natural environment and any prospecting for energy resources in the area is completely banned. Any steps taken by Russia or any other country to prospect for resources in the area should be vehemently opposed by the South African government and should evidence emerge of prospecting by Russia, the ANC government would be compelled to take direct action, which would curtail the working relationships between South African and Russian scientists.

Well-known civic groups such as the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) have made numerous public pronouncements pointing the finger directly at Russia for seismic prospecting in the Antarctic region and they are confident of these claims. It is now essential that any evidence relating to illegal prospecting in the region be provided urgently so that action can be taken to prevent any illegal prospecting from taking place. The ban on prospecting in Antarctica has been in place since 1977 and no country should be exempt.