For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

Ukrainian, German Environmental Associations Publish Research on Financing of Wintershall’s Oil, Gas Business

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

Today, Urgewald and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), together with Ukrainian NGO Razom We Stand, have published research on banks and investors backing Germany’s biggest oil & gas company Wintershall Dea.

The joint research published today by the NGOs reveals which banks provided a total of US$ 14.1 billion to Wintershall Dea from 2019 to 2022 (June) in the form of syndicated loans and underwriting bond issuances.

In this, Commerzbank, Citigroup, HSBC and UniCredit are leading the ranking. Additionally, the research uncovers the investors holding US$ 1.1 billion in bonds issued by Germany’s oil and gas giant (as of September 2022), with the Norwegian Pension Fund being No. 1 in the ranking. 

The Founder of Razom We Stand, Svitlana Romanko in her comments said “The severe allegations raised by the press allow only one option for Wintershall Dea: The company must immediately leave Russia and truly give up their Russian assets. Otherwise, it continues to support Russia’s war of aggression. But Ukrainian blood is not only in the hands of Wintershall Dea and their owner BASF. It is also in the hands of any investor or bank continuing to back the company.” 

Also speaking from human rights and environmental perspective, Head of Energy and Climate Protection at DUH Constantin Zerger said the company is a complete failure”, “Wintershall Dea is pursuing a pure fossil-based business model that is fuelling runaway climate change. The oil and gas company disregards the Paris climate limit and ignores the climate ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court. The company is deeply entangled in business with Russian state company Gazprom, environmentally destructive fracking, and gas and oil production in the Arctic. The management and Supervisory Board are failing to adequately react to the climate crisis as well as Russia’s aggression, but simply continue to do ‘business as usual.

Sonja Meister, Energy Campaigner at Urgewald, noted that “The Company’s expansion path is incompatible with a 1.5° limit and a prime example of potential ‘stranded assets’. Who in their right mind would want to participate in an IPO of such a company? If BlackRock, Deutsche Bank/DWS, UniCredit, Commerzbank, and others do not cut ties with Wintershall Dea for good, their Net-Zero-Alliance memberships and boastful green images are nothing other than empty promises”.

The Research notes that the BASF subsidiary is not only apparently ignorant of the climate crisis. Despite the war in Ukraine, it is also still producing oil and gas in and outside of Russia in joint ventures with Gazprom and Lukoil. Recently, Wintershall Dea made headlines, when an investigative report by leading German media linked the company’s Russian gas production to war crimes committed by Russian warplanes.

They add that Wintershall Dea’s climate-damaging business is made possible by a number of financial institutions that make money from the dirty deals “It is a scandal that investors and banks are not distancing themselves from Wintershall Dea. They risk being complicit in possible war crimes and climate destruction.

Wintershall Dea so far has stated that they do not want to give up activities in Russia, but consider a legal separation of the Russian business. The NGOs stressed that: If in the future a separate legal entity of Wintershall Dea keeps on selling oil, gas, and gas condensate to Gazprom, while the rest of the company is floated at the stock exchange, this will bring no end to the business with Gazprom and the alleged war crimes. 

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