The vessel hired by Royal Dutch Shell Plc to look for potential oil and gas fields is on course to leave South African waters after community groups won a court case to temporarily halt the activity.
A judge on December 28 granted local activists an interim interdict blocking any seismic surveys until a ruling can be made on whether further environmental authorization is required.
No date was set for that decision, and just a few days later the vessel named the Amazon Warrior headed back around the Cape of Good Hope, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Shell has decided to terminate the current contract for the survey vessel early,” a company spokesperson said, citing ongoing legal hearings and a limited weather window to conduct the work. The company said it is considering how it will proceed in the longer term.
The vessel is set to reach a destination indicated as Las Palmas on January 18, the data showed.
Protests against the exploration activity started in South Africa in November with the arrival of the Amazon Warrior. It was set to explore an area known as the Wild Coast, a relatively untouched coastline where whales are frequently spotted.
The article has been updated with comment from Shell.