WASHINGTON — The French megabank BNP Paribas has sold its stake in a $2.5 billion syndicated loan to Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois.
In an announcement Wednesday, the bank said that it decided to sell its $120 million stake in the project “following an extended and comprehensive review of the project including consultation with all the relevant stakeholders."
“The sale of our stake signals the importance of full and detailed consultation on projects that impact large numbers of stakeholders,” the bank’s statement said. “Following the sale of the loan, BNP Paribas no longer has financial exposure to the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
The buyer of BNP Paribas’ stake has not been disclosed, and a spokesperson for the bank could not clarify whether the buyer was another bank already in the loan syndicate, another bank or even a bank at all.
The Dakota Access Pipeline has drawn considerable attention in recent months after longstanding protests led to occasionally violent clashes between demonstrators and authorities. Local Native American tribal authorities have complained that they were not properly consulted and that the Army Corps of Engineers did not register their objections to the project, which they say endangers their water supplies and would disturb sacred spaces.
Demonstrators have also begun pressuring banks that are involved in financing the project to drop their involvement, and while some participants have divested themselves of related shares, BNP is beleived to be the first of the seventeen banks involved in the loan to sell its stake outright.
That push to boycott banks involved in the pipeline has become increasingly organized; the city councils of Seattle and Davis, Calif., voted in February to withdraw their depository relationships with Wells Fargo over their participation in the project. A group of 130 investors that same month, including the comptroller of the city of New York and Boston Common Asset Management, have called on banks to end their financial relationships with the pipeline.