SRI update

The following overview enlists stock-exchange registered companies currently operating in Western Sahara. Updated 5 October 2020.

Published 12 December 20

Do you need more information about particular companies, contact us at investors@wsrw.org. More info can be found via our search engine. 

The list below is ordered at three levels of gravity, in terms of how serious WSRW assess the negative consequences of their involvement. The ordering is roughly done, based on 1) the role of the company in the operation; 2) the type of involvement (resource extraction, strategic infrastructure construction etc); 3) the length/scope of the involvement.

 

1. PARTICULARLY SERIOUS INVOLVEMENT

OCP S.A., Morocco/Ireland
OCP is a state-owned Morocco phosphate production and export company. Most of OCP’s operations are uncontroversial, located within the internationally recognized borders of Morocco. One mine, however, is located in occupied Western Sahara. The Bou Craa mine has been operated by OCP since 1975. OCP’s bonds were floated on the Irish Stock Exchange in 2014.
The controversies, volume and value of OCP’s exports of phosphate rock from Western Sahara, is covered in the annual reports from Western Sahara Resource Watch called P for Plunder. Through the operation of the mine in Western Sahara, OCP is a key source of illegal income for the Morcocan government in the territory that it occupies.

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy S.A., Spain, Siemens Energy, Germany and Siemens AG, Germany
Siemens AG in 2012 announced that it had won several tenders of the Moroccan government for construction of wind parks in occupied Western Sahara. The parks are commissioned by Morocco’s national agency for electricity, ONEE. Siemens collaborates on all projects with the Moroccan wind energy company NAREVA – which owned by a holding company of the King of Morocco. Several new projects have been won and commenced since 2012.
Most controversial of all the Siemens constructions, is the Foum el Oued wind park raised in 2013. Foum el Oued, consisting of 22 wind mills, today supplies 95% of the energy needs of the phosphate mine of Phosboucraa. In other words: practically all energy required for the exploitation and transport of the phosphate rock in Western Sahara, is generated by wind mills delivered by Siemens. The green energy production is thus making Morocco’s plunder of the territory even more lucrative.
In 2016, Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) wrote a report on Siemens’s operations in Western Sahara. In 2018, Siemens built the 200 MW windfarm Aftissat in the occupied territory.
Siemens has failed to answer questions on whether it has obtained consent from the representatives of the Saharawi people, both in letter correspondence by WSRW, by investors, and by shareholders at the AGM.
In September 2020, Siemens Gamesa announced that it had entered into a new agreement in what it refers to as “Southern Morocco”. WSRW condemed the operation and the lack of will to address concerns of international law, and changed recommendation to investors from engagement to divestment. 
Siemens Gamesa is 67% owned by Siemens Energy, which by January 2021 in turn is owned 45% by Siemens AG. 

Enel SpA, Italy
Enel has since 2012 taken part part in the construction of wind parks. The work is undertaken by its subsidiary Enel Green Power SpA. The role of Enel is described in the report Powering the Plunder by Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) in 2016.
WSRW has repeatedly asked the company what steps have been taken to obtain the consent from the people of the territory. The company has never responded. Enel's sustainability reports refer to a so-called 'consultation' process with the local population. This can not replace the act of obtaining consent from the representatives of the people.

Continental AG, Germany
A subsidiary of German company Continental, ContiTech, plays a key role in the maintenance of OCP’s long belt carrying phosphate rock from the mine out to the sea. The company states having supplied systems allowing a throughput on the belt of “2000 metric tons per hour and a belt speed of over four meters per second”. Continental has explained that it receives continuous orders to the Bou Craa conveyor belt. In April 2017, the company began constructing belt components in a proper factory in Morocco.
Its current contract expires on 20 June 2020.
At the 2019 AGM, Continental stated that the contract expires in July 2020. As of January 2021, the company has still not clarified whether it will continue supplying to the Bou Craa mine.

Voltalia, France
In August 2020, Moroccan media wrote that Voltalia has received a contract for a windfarm near Dakhla. WSRW wrote the company, but has not received a response. 

Société d'Exploitation des Ports SA, Morocco (or Marsa Maroc)
A Moroccan company registered on the Casablanca Stock Exchange, that operates the El Aaiun and Dakhla ports - both key hubs for exports of resources out of the territory. 

San Leon Energy PLC, Ireland
Registered on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London, San Leon Energy, holds a petroleum agreement onshore Western Sahara. San Leon undertook the first ever oil drilling onshore occupied Western Sahara in 2015. Thousands of refugees protested the company’s operations.
In 2016, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, excluded San Leon due to its “particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms”.  In October 2018, a complaint was filed to the National Contact Point of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies in Ireland, regarding San Leon's breach of respecting the Saharawi people's rights. As of 2019, the company fails to keep investors updated on whether it still holds a licence in the territory.

 

2. SERIOUS INVOLVEMENT
 

Sinofert Holdings, Hong Kong/China
Sinofert imports phosphates from occupied Western Sahara from late 2018. The company is 22% owned by Nutrien Ltd, and 52,7 percent controlled by the Chinese government-owned Sinochem group.
WSRW contacted the company on 19 January 2019, and not yet received a response. New info on the trade will be published in the annual WSRW reports called P for Plunder, published first quarter of each year.

Coromandel International Ltd, India
Coromandel is the second biggest phosphatic fertiliser player in India and is registered on the National Stock Exchange of India. The company received a cargo of phosphate rock in January 2019. WSRW contacted the company, and has not received a response. New info on the trade will be published in the annual WSRW reports called P for Plunder, published first quarter of each year.

Nutrien LtD, Canada
The company owns 22% of the shares in the Chinese company Sinofert Holdings, which was known to import phosphates from Western Sahara from 2018.
Nutrien was established in January 2018 as a merger of the two fertilizer companies Agrium and PotashCorp, two companies that at the time together accounted for 50% of all all purchases of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara. The new company management announced on 25 January 2018 that all imports to the legacy company Agrium were to terminate by end of 2018. The company then announced on 1 August 2018 its coming closure of the fertilizer plant in Geismar, Louisiana, USA, which used to be operated by the legacy company PotashCorp.
The company has allegedly, as late as January 2019, informed owners that no further inolvement are taking place from 31 December 2018. WSRW has observed no vessels departing from Western Sahara to Nutrien plants in Canada/US from 1 January 2019 until today.

Worley Ltd, Australia
The Australian company Worley Ltd. is a co-owner with Phosboucraa of an integrated fertilizer production platform and a new phosphate wharf. The operation is done through a 50/50 joint-venture company with OCP for called JESA (Jacobs Engineering SA). The latter is described as a Moroccan construction and engineering firm. JESA has projects in Morocco, and in other African countries. JESA is also described as the project owner of the Foum El Oued Technopole project. WSRW has not yet written to the company.

Caterpillar, United States
Supplies the Bou Craa phosphate mine with vehicules for the mining operation. WSRW wrote the company in April 2020, but has not received an answer.

Hitachi Ltd., Japan and ABB, Switzerland/Sweden
Swedish-Swiss company ABB was selected to build the first hybrid substation for a wind farm in Western Sahara. The company declared on 7 July 2017 its operation, but without specifying its location. Find the original press release here.
The work relates to the construction of Morocco’s so-called Aftissat wind farm. ABB confirmed to the association Terre des hommes on 11 June 2018 that the power station was indeed intended for the Aftissat wind farm in Boujdour, Western Sahara. See also NZZ.
ABB’s power grids sector was taken over by Hitachi in 2020. From 1 July 2020, ABB’s ownership in that joint-venture, called Hitachi ABB Power Grids, is 19,9% owned by ABB, with Hitachi owning the remaining 80,1%. WSRW sent a letter to the new joint-venture in August 2020, requesting it to clarify its current contractual obligations in Western Sahara.  No reply was received.
A letter was sent from Friends of Western Sahara Japan, terre des hommes schweiz, Switzerland, Emmaus Stockholm, Sweden to Hitachi on 19 December 2019. The company responded that "Negotiations regarding the acquisition of ABB's power grid business are proceeding smoothly. Hitachi is promoting the clearance of competition laws around the world, and advancing as scheduled toward the completion of the acquisition in the first half of 2020. Therefore, we are very sorry we can't answer at this time."

HeidelbergCement AG, Germany
Operates a cement factory near El Aaiún, the capital city of Western Sahara.  Western Sahara Resource Watch has confronted the company regarding the operations, but no response has been received by our association.
The matter of Western Sahara was addressed at the HeidelbergCement AGM of 2019 and in 2020, but the company did not respond to questions regarding consent of the Saharawi people.

LafargeHolcim, Switzerland
Operates a grinding unit for cement in El Aaiun, which started operating in 2017, with a 200.000 tonnes/year capacity. See also NZZ. In 2016, LafargeHolcim took part in the construction of OCP's port terminal in El Aaiun. Its maps fail to draw the international border between Morocco and Western Sahara, and the company refers to the city of Laayoune to be located in "Sud du Maroc". Its 100% owned subsidiary Lafarge Ciments Sahara has address in the occupied territory. LafargeHolcim's subsidiary in Morocco is 50% owned by the Moroccan king's holding company La Mada. WSRW has so far not confronted the company. A letter from terre des hommes to Lafarge on 18 June 2018 was responded to in this way.

Fugro NV, the Netherlands
The Dutch company Fugro in December 2019 assisted in the laying of a subsea telecom cable offshore Dakhla, despite having promised in 2010 “to abstain from any further involvement in Western Sahara until the political situation has been resolved". Fugro had not obtained consent from Polisario, but stated it had contacted Polisario prior to the engagement.

Deutsche Post DHL Group, Germany
Deutsche Post's subsidiary DHL opened an express branch in El Aaiún in 2016. In media statements and on website, the company refers to Western Sahara as located in Morocco. The company was challenged about the matter at the 2020 AGM, and commented on the engagement to the newspaper Responsible Investor on 28.08.2020.

BNP Paribas, France
French bank with office in occupied territory. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.

Société Générale, France
French bank with office in occupied territory. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.

Crédit Agricole, France
French bank with office in occupied territory. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.

Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco
The Moroccan bank has a large market share in the economy of the occupied territories, they boast of “having almost a 25% market share in the Southern Provinces”[or download], with 8 offices in el El Aaiun, 3 in Dakhla and others in Smara and Boujdour. The bank is reportedly also building a “Dar Al Moukawli” center (business hub initiative by AWB Group) in El Aaiun, and it is opening up a fourth office in Dakhla. Attijariwafa is also focusing on supporting investment project holders as well as SMEs with public markets in the occupied territories. The Attijariwafa bank Group has a market share in the occupied territories of around a quarter in both the distribution of loans and the collection of deposits.  
Attijariwafa Bank reportedly gave loans to build the Aftissat wind farm near Boujdour in the occupied territory [or download]. The loans were given to Energie Eoliene du Maroc (75% owned by Nareva) who is developing the Aftissat wind farm.
In 2014 the bank put up a conference to explore and attract the increasing of business activities in the  territory [or download]. Main points were the potential for doing businesses mainly in Dakhla and El Aaiun (in the phosphates, fisheries and tourism sectors) and opening up the occupied territories to international businesses. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.

BMCE Bank, Morocco
As of 12 Dec 2018, the Moroccan bank's website enlists 8 offices in Western Sahara (4 in El Aaiun, 1 in Smara, 1 in Boujdour, 2 in Dakhla). The bank holds a partnership with the French Chamber of Commerce in Morocco, whereby they jointly train and form people in the finance sector in El Aaiun, and promote a "Club" for small and medium sized enterprises in El Aaiun (see here [or download] and here [or download]). WSCUK confronted the company on 22 January 2019.

Agence Française de Développement, France
AFD has a dual status, being both a French public undertaking as an EPIC (“Etablissement Public à Caractère Industriel et Commercial”) and a finance company (“Société de Financement”) regulated by the national banking authority (ACPR). It is thus possible to invest in bonds in AFD.
In 2012, AFD signed an agreement with OCP for the financing of a desalination plant dedicated for the basic processing of phosphate rock at the Phosboucraa installations.
WSRW wrote to AFD in November 2020, inquiring as to what policies it has in place to avoid its funding would be used on occupied land - particularly in view of AFD's strategic partnership with OCP SA - but has not received any reply.

Wartsila OYJ ABP, Finland
The company has on two occasions struck agreements with the Moroccan government for the production of diesel generated power plants in Western Sahara. The company states it does not see the engagements as any problematic.

Alstom, France
Company equipment and operations have several times been seen in the occupied territory. Alstom's power and grid businesses was in 2015 acquired by General Electric, which in 2013 reponded positively to a request from WSRW to withdraw from a tender on renewable energy. In December 2020, WSRW reached out to Alstom to inquire whether the firm today has a policy in place that will prevent any involvement in projects in occupied Western Sahara, unless with the explicit consent of the Polisario Front as representative of the people of Western Sahara. No reply was received. WSRW has not confronted General Electric on the matter.

Engie, France
In 2018, the French electric utility company won a tender for a desalinization plant in the occupied city of Dakhla, according to the news service Africa Intelligence. The tender was won in partnership with the company Nareva, which is owned by the Moroccan king's holding company.
The company supposedly in 2016 signed a comprehensive agreement [or download] with the same Nareva in the renewable energy sector. According to the website thewindpower.net, the company has a co-ownership stake (together with NAREVA) in two wind farms in the occupied territories of Western Sahara: the Foum El Oued [or download] wind farm and the Aftissat [or download] wind farm.
In 2016, according to its own website [or download], ENGIE announced its participation in a Moroccan university complex 13 km from the occupied capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiun. The company calls the location as “in the Moroccan desert”.
In 2013, the company (at the time called GDF Suez) took part in the tender for the Tiskrad and Boujdour wind parks, but did not win it. WSRW wrote the company on 2 July 2013 regarding its participation in the tender, without receiving an answer. The letter was directed at International Power PLC from the UK - then a subsidiary of GDF Suez, today renamed Engie Energy International, and wholly owned by ENGIE.
Western Sahara Resource Watch and the French association APSO wrote the company on 11.01.2019 and on 09.12.2020. Engie did not respond.

Veolia, France
Veolia, together with fellow French company Voltalia, bid in 2018 to develop a planned desalinization plant in the occupied city of Dakhla, only to lose out to the Engie-Nareva partnership. See here and here.
The company built a 26,000 m³/day reverse osmosis desalination plant in occupied El Aaiun in 2010 (according to this Veolia presentation from 2017 [or download]). According to a 2013 press release by Veolia, the company tried to “sell its Moroccan water, wastewater and electricity services, operated by concession companies Redal and Amendis” to British private equity firm Actis. Although Veolia and Actis reached a deal the Moroccan Ministry of Interior vetoed this sale. In 2014, the company filed an update on the US Securities and Exchange Commission noting that the sale to Actis was turned down, and the new plan of action would be to sell subsidiaries Redal and Amendis back to the Moroccan government.
Veolia took part in a desalinisation conference in El Aaiun in 2008. WSRW received in approximately 2015 a picture of what appears to be Veolia equipment in Western Sahara.
WSRW asked the company in December 2020 whether it has any policies in place to avoid becoming involved in projects in the occupied territory, but has not received any response.

 

3. INVOLVEMENT OF CONCERN
 

Vinci Group, France
A subsidiary of Vinci, Entrepose, in 2015 carried out onshore oil drilling in Western Sahara on behalf of Irish oil company San Leon Energy. This is the only onshore oil drilling operation ever undertaken in the territory during the 45 years of occupation. In 2013, Vinci's subsidary Cegelec, was involved in the construction of the Foum el Oued windfarm that supplies the Bou Craa phosphate plant with energy. 
WSRW has not written to the company. 

ThyssenKrupp, Germany
The company was awarded a contract for the construction of a cement factory in El Aaiun, 2016. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.

Booking Holdings Inc, United States
Booking Holdings is branding itself as “the world's leader in online travel”, markets travels to – and accommodation in – Western Sahara, branding it as destinations in “Morocco”. This done on sites as booking.com, rentalcars.com, agoda.com, priceline.com

Expedia Group Inc, United States
The Expedia group branding itself as “one of the world’s leading travel companies” markets travels to – and accommodation in – Western Sahara, branding it as destinations in “Morocco”. This done on sites as Expedia.com, Vrbo.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Orbitz.com, Travelocity.com, Trivago.com and CarRentals.com.

Kosmos Energy Ltd, USA
Kosmos’s first engagement in Western Sahara began in, on a license later to be called Boujdour Maritime. Its operatorship in that license was terminated, and the company withdrew from Western Sahara, on 21 December 2017. According to a statement by the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM in January 2018, it can be interpreted that Kosmos has left the door open to return to Western Sahara.
Kosmos Energy has also maintained its website www.westernsaharaoil.com on which it describes its approach to the conflict, even after it terminated its interested on the Boujdour Maritime licence.
In 2016, one of Kosmos Energy’s biggest owners, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, excluded Kosmos due to “particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms” in its oil exploration in the territory.
Kosmos in 2014-2015 undertook the first ever oil drilling in Western Sahara waters since the occupation of the territory in 1975. Western Sahara Resource Watch in 2014 wrote a report about Kosmos Energy’s upcoming drilling operation.

Cairn Energy, UK
Until 2017, Cairn Energy held a 20% interest in the Boujdour Maritime exploration licence, where Kosmos Energy was operator. Cairn and Kosmos carried out the first and only oil drilling ever taken place offshore Western Sahara since the occupation of the territory in 1975.
The Boujdour Maritime licence was terminated on 21 December 2017. However, a statement from the operator Kosmos seems to have left the door open for a return to the territory. Cairn has not issued any statement clarifying that it does not intend to return.

Air France, France
Subsidiary Transavia, co-owned with KLM, operates flight Paris-Dakhla. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW wrote to the company in December 2020, following the announcement by the EU Commission that Western Sahara was not part of any EU aviation agreement. The company did not respond.

KLM, the Netherlands
Subsidiary Transavia, co-owned with Air France, operates flight Paris-Dakhla. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company. WSRW wrote to the company in December 2020, following the announcement by the EU Commission that Western Sahara was not part of any EU aviation agreement. The company did not respond.

Air Arabia, United Arab Emirates
As of 2020, the company operates a flight route between Casablanca and Dakhla. The route is also mentioned in this Moroccan government document. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.

Orange SA, France
In its website, Orange SA’s Moroccan subsidiary Orange Maroc states having 7 offices in El Aaiún (or Laayoune, Western Sahara’s occupied capital), 1 office in Boujdour, 1 office in Smara (or Essemara on its website) and 1 office in Dakhla.
Data of coverage quality in the aforementioned territories suggests that Orange Morocco has substantial infrastructure in the Western Sahara. As recently as 2017, it promoted events and cultural activities that legitimize the military Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, and uses Moroccan colonial maps that merged Western Sahara’s occupied territories with thus of Morocco.
From July of 2015 French Orange S.A. has controlled 49% in the Moroccan company MediTel. From then, MediTel was rebranded as Orange Maroc (or Orange Morocco in English) to fully include it in the Orange S.A. brand. This acquisition was honouring an investor agreement made in December of 2010 between Orange, Moroccan state-owned Cassie de Depot et de Gestion (CDG) and FinanceCom. (FinanceCom is also the owner of the controversial Moroccan bank BMCE Bank, which has a business operation and extensive presence in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.)
WSRW has so far not confronted the company.

Abengoa, Spain
In 2018, Spanish Abengoa, together with Saudi ACWA, jointly bid to build a desalination plant in Dakhla, occupied Western Sahara.  According to Africa Intelligence, the duo was disqualified from the tender.  Abengoa’s 2017 Annual Report (page 46), makes reference to a water project in Dakhla, without specifying whether it is the same as the tender they are supposed to have lost.
In its website, Abengoa lists itself as having a “Permanent Presence” in Western Sahara. Abengoa’s subsidiary INABENSA also lists Western Sahara as part of Morocco on maps on its website.
According to Abengoa’s 2017 Annual Report (page 46), the company is also involved –through frameworks contracts— in the development and maintenance of telecommunications infrastructure for Orange and INWI in both fibre optics and GSM, although it is not defined where these projects are. INWI and Orange are both present and operate in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
WSRW has so far not confronted the company.

Axa SA, France
French insurance company with subsidiary Axa Assurance Maroc operating in occupied territory. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
 

Siemens, Enel blacklisted by asset manager over international law concerns

Siemens Gamesa, Siemens Energy and Enel Spa have been excluded by Norway's largest private asset manager for contributing to violations of international law in occupied Western Sahara. 

14 January 21

WSRW has a new website

WSRW is pleased to announce that we finally have a new website! Please be patient with us in the transition. Full functionality will be expected from end of January 2021. Errors can be reported to info@wsrw.org. 

16 December 20

How the companies argue

This article is under construction. Please come back later. 

01 December 19

WSRW reports

We still have some of these reports in printed versions. Those can be ordered from info@wsrw.org. Price: 15 Euros per report, plus postage.   

01 December 19