Only six months ago, three major Norwegian investors owned stocks in the company, which is searching for oil outside the coast of Western Sahara. During spring, Storebrand Insurance and the Norwegian Petroleum Fund gave in to public pressure, and decided to sell. Recently, KLP Insurance made the same decision.
Behind this pressure is the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, with 21 paying members. A core of 10-12 activists have kept going since 1993, built network and spread information. Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco, and was recently in the news when the Norwegian Broadcasting Company sent a documentary showing how the Norwegian Embassy in Morocco assisted Norwegian companies in exploiting the fishing resources.
Searching for oil Primarily, it is the search for oil which concerns the Norwegian activists. The last year, pressure has been exerted against the US company Kerr-McGee, which is the last company still searching for oil outside the occupied territory. By the beginning of the year, three Norwegian investment funds held stocks in the company, the Petroleum Fund, Storebrand Insurance and KLP Insurance.
Now all are leaving. The first week of June, the Norwegian Finance Ministry sent out a press release stating that the Petroleum Fund should sell its stocks. This put pressure on the others.
-We will sell out, but we do not know precisely when, Cornelia Moseid says. She is Advisor for Ethics and Social Relations in KLP Insurance. Moseid does not deny that the Petroleum Fund is important for assessing investments.
Already in April, Storbrand Insurance decided to sell.
- We usually do not comment individual companies in our portfolio. But concerning Kerr-McGee, I can confirm that we are completely out. The reason is that we do not find that their corporate conduct is acceptable, Information Director Egil Thompson states.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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