Re-routing the oil pipeline at Standing Rock is an absolute demand

13.12.16 16:53

Nordea has imposed the absolute demand on the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline that they reroute the oil pipeline so that it is does not pass close to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation. Nordea’s Responsible Investment Committee has also decided to put the three companies in quarantine for six months. During this period, managers may not invest in them.

"Nordea will, by Friday, 16 December at the latest, send a letter to the companies with a clear demand: the companies must respect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s demand to not lay the pipeline near their reservation", comments Sasja Beslik, Head of Sustainable Finance.

Re-routing the oil pipeline was one of the demands that Dave, chief of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, conveyed to Sasja Beslik at their meeting last week. Sasja Beslik was in North Dakota to meet the stakeholders in the oil pipeline, and to form his own opinion of the situation. The conclusion is that the assessment made of the environmental risks was done correctly. However, it emerged that the planner had not gained support for the project in an entirely correct manner, such that it reached all levels of the Standing Rock tribe.

"I don’t actually believe either that the world needs another oil pipeline, but it’s not the construction itself that the tribe wants to stop. There are already eight pipelines under the Missouri River. It’s the location, close to the reservation, that the tribe wants changed", comments Sasja Beslik.

At a meeting with Greeenpeace on Monday, the organisation questioned why Nordea hadn’t just sold off its holding. Sasja Beslik explained that Nordea’s approach is to use holdings to influence businesses for the better. If we don’t have a holding, we don’t have any influence. Exclusion is therefore a last resort and happens when we find the prospect of change to be impossible.

Selling the holdings in the three companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, i.e. Energy Transfer Partners, Sunoco Logistics Partners and Philips 66, would be needed:

  • If the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, in the next six-month period, make it clear that they will not respect the requirement to re-route the pipeline. In that case, Nordea’s Sustainable Finance team will recommend that our Responsible Investment Committee sells the holdings.
  • If the companies in question are found guilty of breaching the rights of the indigenous people. In that case, Nordea’s Sustainable Finance team will recommend selling the holdings.
  • If the companies win legal proceedings regarding the stretch of the oil pipeline concerned, or if an altered political situation results in the companies being granted access to lay the pipeline through the standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s land, Nordea’s Sustainable Finance team will recommend selling the holdings.

Otherwise, Nordea will continue to attempt to influence the situation by being an active owner.

Besides meeting the chief of Standing Rock and other stakeholders in North Dakota, Sasja Beslik also visited the camps on both sides of Cannonball River, where protesters against the pipeline have gathered. He described the situation as calm. Since the Department of Army withdrew the building permit at Lake Oahe, protesters in the camps are no longer considered trespassers, and according to Sasja Beslik he did not see a single police officer there.