A longer version of this article below was published on website of Norwegian broadcaster NRK on 03.06.2013. Translated to English by the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.
KLP, the local government pension scheme, no longer wants to include one of the world’s largest oil companies in its investment portfolio.
The reason is the oil company’s agreement with Morocco to explore for oil and gas offshore Western Sahara.
“KLP believes that Total’s activities on the continental shelf off Western Sahara’s coast may be linked to breaches of fundamental ethical norms,” Jeanett Bergan, leader of responsible investments in KLP Kapitalforvaltning, said.
Total has resumed its exploration for oil and gas offshore Western Sahara in 2012. All activity on the continental shelf off Western Sahara’s coast is linked to breaches of fundamental ethical norms, KLP believes.
The Financial Times’ survey of the world’s largest companies as measured in market value listed Total as 39th in 2012.
Globally, only 12 companies had a greater turnover than Total in 2012. The company has 97,000 employees and operates in 130 countries.
“Not Breaking the Law”
KLP has been in contact with Total’s headquarters in France.
“The company has pointed out that it is not breaking international law, nor have we claimed that it is,” Bergan said. “KLP excludes all companies that are carrying out extraction of natural resources in occupied Western Sahara.”
KLP and the KLP funds together had investments of about 52.6 million € in Total S.A. as of 31 December 2012.
In comparison, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Abroad owned at the end of 2012 shares in Total worth 1.9 billion €, equivalent to 2.1% of its shares.
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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.