Finance & Oil
Public and private finance play an integral role in forcing open the oil & gas frontier. Longer pipelines, deeper drilling and Arctic weather require increased project costs for oil companies, reaching levels difficult to finance off balance sheets alone. Supermajors, national oil companies and second tier oil corporations remain heavily dependent on external finance for expansion and development. Private financial institutions such as Royal Bank of Scotland, ABN AMRO and BNP Paribas play a key role in the Carbon Web by providing financial advice, structuring loan agreements, providing credit and issuing bonds.
The lessons of past failures have not been learnt. Despite "State Oil Funds" and "Environmental and Social Action Plans", oil projects tend to result in human rights abuses, rising debt and pollution. It is private banks that provide the financial fuel enabling oil corporations to leave behind their wake of destruction. Banks make significant profits through financing projects that accelerate climate change and incite future conflict.
Precisely through their central role, the banks hold a significant ability to influence corporate behaviour. Shifts in investment tendencies away from oil and gas and into renewables could have major impacts. On a project-specific level, banks can choose to exert pressure to affecting the practices and standards implemented by their clients.
PLATFORM's "Finance & Oil" work focuses on private banks supporting new oil & gas development. We aim to deter private banks from funding controversial projects, such as Shell's dangerous Sakhalin II off eastern Russia. Despite the project violating Russian law, threatening the last Western Pacific Grey Whales with extinction and disrupting local indigenous and non-indigenous communities, private banks including Royal Bank of Scotland and ABN AMRO have made bids to arrange finance.
Where banks do participate in destructive pipelines, field developments and LNG plants, we aim to hold them to account for the impacts. Sixteen banks including RBS, Citibank and Societe Generale arranged finance for BP's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. BTC has seen human rights abuses by the Turkish military, Georgian villages losing their water sources and the militarisation of the Azeri regime. Every day the pipeline pumps 1 million barrels of oil - equating to 1/3 of UK total CO2 emissions. The participating banks hold a responsibility for the social and environmental destruction resulting from the projects. PLATFORM also provides research support to organisations and movements investigating the nexus of private finance and the oil industry.
PLATFORM is part of Banktrack, a network of civil society organisations and individuals tracking the operations of the private financial sector (commercial banks, investors, insurance companies, pension funds) and its effect on people and the planet.