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 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.
“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 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‘. From a human rights and environmental perspective, the company is a complete failure”, comments Constantin Zerger, Head of Energy and Climate Protection at DUH.
Wintershall Dea's climate-damaging business is made possible by a number of financial institutions. 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.
“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. 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 more than empty promises”, comments Sonja Meister, Energy Campaigner at Urgewald.
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 stress: If in 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.
Svitlana Romanko, Founder of Razom We Stand, comments: “The severe allegations raised by the press allow only one option for Wintershall Dea: The company must immediately leave Russia and truly give up its Russian assets. Otherwise, it will continue to support Russia's war of aggression. But Ukrainian blood is not only on the hands of Wintershall Dea and its owner BASF. It is also on the hands of any investor or bank continuing to back the company.”
Download the briefing "The Banks and Investors Backing Wintershall Dea’s Russian and Global Business"
Sonja Meister, Energy Campaigner, Urgewald
firstname.lastname@example.org, +49 176 6460 8515
Constantin Zerger, Head of Energy and Climate Protection, Deutsche Umwelthilfe