The pension funds of 650,000 Norwegians are invested in four companies with financial interests in the heavily disputed oil pipeline project that has attracted massive protests in the US state of North Dakota.
The National Local Government Pension Fund (KLP) confirmed on Tuesday that it has invested in firms involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project, which would transfer crude oil across the Midwest. Indigenous people of the United States have been vehemently opposed to the project, saying that it desecrates sacred tribal lands, violates land treaties and threatens the drinking water of millions of people.
Annie Bersagel, an investment advisor for responsible at KLP, told Aftenposten that the pension fund continuously monitors all of its investments to ensure that they do not violate guidelines for responsible investment. She said that in severe cases like that of the DAPL the fund will “contact companies for a follow-up”. Bersagel said that dropping investments takes time but that "KLP and the KLP funds expect companies we are invested in to respect human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples."
But KLP is far from alone. The pension fund is the fourth Norwegian organiztion found to have interests in the pipeline, which has spurred one of the biggest indigenous conflicts in the US over the past 100 years.
Norway's massive sovereign oil fund has 6.7 billion kroner invested in three companies whose various subsidiaries are involved in the ownership, construction and operation of the controversial pipeline.
Thomas Sevang, a spokesman for Norges Bank Investment Management, told Aftenposten that he could not comment on individual companies “but we expect that companies respect human rights and take human rights into account in their operations”.
Aftenposten also revealed that Norwegian bank DNB has lent nearly three billion kroner to help finance the pipeline.
DNB has said that it is “concerned about the situation” and will re-evaluate its financing for the project.
“Our policy is clear that we should only fund projects that meet DNB's requirements for environmental and social issues. We have intensified our dialogue with our customers and stressed that respect for indigenous rights is a basic prerequisite for the bank. We also urge continued dialogue with the affected indigenous peoples to find solutions to the conflict,” bank spokesman Harald Serck-Hanssen said in a press statement this week.
DNB said it is undergoing an “objective and fact-based assessment of how indigenous rights are safeguarded” as the pipeline's operator, Energy Transfer Partners, moves to complete construction of the pipeline.