Statoil sells interests in Alberta’s tar sands

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Edmonton – After two years of cross-Atlantic campaigning by Greenpeace against Statoil’s tar sands investments, Statoil today announced it is selling 40 per cent of its interests in the Alberta tar sands project in Canada.

The official reason given for selling off the holdings to 60 per cent from 100 per cent is to, “optimize the risk and strategic profile of our global portfolio.”

“It’s clear that Europe’s so-called ‘greenest’ oil company is realizing just how dirty and risky tar sands development really is,” said Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Melina Laboucan-Massimo. “It is increasingly evident that companies are starting to understand the mounting environmental, Indigenous and brand risks posed by this devastating resource. The next step is for Statoil to fully sell off its tar sands holding and instead invest in the clean, green, renewable energy the world needs to see.”

A Statoil press release indicates it has agreed to sell 40 per cent to PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP), a Thailand-based company that has a poor environmental and human rights record for their oil and gas developments in Southeast Asia.

This announcement comes just one month after one of Scandinavia’s largest mutual fund managers, Swedbank Robur, decided to remove all oil companies invested in tar sands from its ethical funds. Swedbank said the decision was based on the lack of solutions to the environmental and human rights challenges plaguing the industry in Alberta. Swedbank Robur is one of the financial institutions that Greenpeace has been meeting with and encouraging to reconsider its tar sands portfolio.

“Statoil has finally realized what Greenpeace has been saying all along: That this polluting and destructive development is also financially a very high-risk project,” said Martin Norman, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic. “Greenpeace welcomes this announcement but this must only be a beginning. Statoil must disinvest entirely from tar sands extraction.”

Tar sands oil extraction requires high oil prices to provide profitability and causes large emissions of greenhouse gases, the primary driver of climate change. Tar sands development also causes the destruction of virgin forest, the release of substantial amounts of polluted water and chemicals during the process of extraction, and serious impacts on local first nations’ communities with the lose of their hunting grounds, local air and water pollution, and the associated health impacts.

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