Not only are Norway’s huge sovereign wealth fund and its biggest bank involved in the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, its largest life insurance firm and pension fund for local government- and other employees also has stakes in it. So does Norway’s second-largest bank, Nordea.
Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP) confirmed on Tuesday that it has invested in four of the companies developing the pipeline that’s sparked major protests in the US and worldwide. The companies include Phillips 66, Enbridge Inc, Energy Transfers Partners and Marathon Petroleum Corp. KLP’s various funds involved in the companies include Verdipapirfondet KLP Aksje Global Indeks, Verdipapirfondet KLP AskjeUSA Indeks and KLP Obligasjon Global I.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported Tuesday that KLP is thus the fourth major Norwegian player that has interests in the pipeline project that has sparked some of the largest conflicts with Native Americans in the US for nearly a century. Norway’s own indigenous Sami people are among those supporting the Sioux nation that fears its sacred grounds and drinking water in North Dakota will be damaged by the pipeline project.
Aftenposten and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) have been among media outlets reporting extensively lately about the involvement of Norway’s Oil Fund and biggest bank, DNB, in the pipeline project. The Oil Fund, set up to preserve Norway’s own oil revenues for future generations, has invested nearly NOK 7 billion in companies developing the pipeline, while DNB has lent around NOK 2.8 billion to the project.
DNB reported over the weekend that, because of all the pipeline protests, it would re-evaluate its financing for the venture if it couldn’t be assured that the rights of the Sioux nation have been properly taken into consideration. The finance ministry’s ethics committee is also under pressure to instruct the Oil Fund to withdraw its investment in the pipeline companies.
Nordea’s funds management division has also invested in one of the companies, reported Aftenposten, while KLP’s stake reportedly totals around NOK 423 million in the form of shares and commercial paper. Now it’s also taking another look at the project.
Subject to monitoring
Annie Bersagel, spokesperson for KLP Kapitalforvaltning, stated on KLP’s own website that KLP has held stakes in the pipeline companies for many years. “Based on the information we have, the protests began in April 2016,” Bersagel said, adding that the 3,000 companies KLP and KLP’s funds are monitored continuously for any violations of KLP’s guidelines for responsible investments.
The monitoring has now been made a priority, she said, especially after the (pipeline) protests turned violent in October. She noted that it wasn’t until September that the United Nations raised concerns of human rights violations.
KLP’s investment monitors “are in the process of arranging a conversation with the companies involved in the project,” Bersagel said. She said KLP had not had any direct contact with Phillips 66, which was first stocklisted in 2012, but has followed up with its former parent company, ConocoPhillips, regarding “responsible and sustainable operations.”
Bersagel said any sell-off of stakes in the pipeline project would come only after information is gathered and it appears unlikely that KLP could achieve any changes deemed necessary through its ownership stake. Companies whose practices are questioned must also get an opportunity to respond. “The process can take time, but our experience is that openness results in greater influence,” she said.