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Norway's top bank drops assets in Dakota Access Pipeline

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Norway's top bank drops assets in Dakota Access Pipeline
Police mace protesters during a demonstration against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota on Tuesday. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters/Scanpix
10:32 CET+01:00
Norway's biggest bank, DNB, announced on Thursday that it has sold its stakes in companies that are involved in the construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
DNB had said last week that it was “concerned” about the North Dakota pipeline project and would reconsider its involvement.  
 
On Thursday, DNB spokesman Even Westerveld told Aftenposten that the bank has now cut its funding because of the concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux, who say the project violates land treaties, desecrates sacred grounds and threatens the drinking water of millions of people who rely on the Missouri River. 
 
Massive protests have been held at Standing Rock for weeks, sometimes resulting in violent clashes with law enforcement. 
 
DNB's holdings were worth around $3 million (26 million kroner). Additionally, DNB is reconsidering three separate loans it has made to help finance the pipeline. The bank's total contributions amount to roughly ten percent of the project's total costs. 
 
“We took the initiative to undergo an independent review of how indigenous rights are safeguarded in this process. In addition, we have intensified the dialogue with our customers to use our position as a bank to influence a solution to the conflict,” Westerveld said. 
 
Greenpeace Norway, which gathered over 120,000 signatures to pressure DNB, welcomed the decision but noted that DNB is still a lender to the project.
 
“It is great that DNB has sold its assets in the disputed pipeline, and it is a clear signal that it is important that people speak out when injustice is committed. We now expect DNB to also terminate its loans for the project immediately,” Greenpeace Norway spokesman Martin Norman said in a statement. 
 
“There should be a clause in the lending agreement that deals with human rights violations, and DNB should use it to get its money back and end all involvement in the Dakota Access pipeline. If they don't have such a clause they must accept they have a bad contract and take the loss,” he continued. 
 
DNB is not the only Norwegian entity tied to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The nation's massive sovereign oil fund has 6.7 billion kroner ($780 million) invested in three companies whose various subsidiaries are involved in the ownership, construction and operation of the controversial project. 
 
The National Local Government Pension Fund (KLP), which manages the pensions of some 650,000 Norwegians, has also invested in firms involved in the pipeline.
 
A spokeswoman for the Socialist Left Party (SV) commended DNB's decision and said that the oil fund should also divest from the pipeline. 
 
“DNB has sent an example. Now the state must follow suit. The oil fund should not violate indigenous rights through its investments. SV will put forth a proposal in parliament to get indigenous rights added into the ethical guidelines of the fund,” MP Kirsti Bergstø said. 
 
She added that it is important that the oil fund invests in companies that respect indigenous rights and that these rights have not been taken into account by the companies behind the pipeline at Standing Rock.
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