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Fossil fuel projects: NGOs ask investors to cut TotalEnergies’ main sources of finance

By Antoine Bouhey, Lara Cuvelier, Helen Burley* 

Reclaim Finance has joined 58 NGOs from around the world, including Banktrack, in signing an open letter calling on banks and investors to stop participating in bonds (loans granted by investors and facilitated by banks) issued by TotalEnergies.
The 58 NGO signatories include 350.org, Amazon Watch, BankTrack, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR, Papua New Guinea), Justiça Ambiental (Mozambique) and Friday for Future (Uganda), Oil Change International and Urgewald (Germany).
Bonds are the French oil and gas major’s main source of financing, and as such enable it to pursue its climate-wrecking strategy by developing new oil and gas projects, ignoring scientific recommendations to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The letters come just days after TotalEnergies raised US$4.25 billion on the bond market, with the help of several banks, including BPCE/Natixis, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank. With four existing bonds due to expire this year, the NGOs are warning banks and investors against their renewal.
TotalEnergies currently has 45 active bonds, totaling US$48.9 billion, with bonds accounting for some 68% of its financing between 2016 and 2022. Between 2016 and 2022, TotalEnergies raised US$37.6 billion via bonds. Last week, TotalEnergies raised US$4.25 billion on the bond market supported by banks, including Standard Chartered, BPCE/Natixis, and Deutsche Bank.
BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Crédit Agricole did not participate in the bond, even though they are the biggest financiers of TotalEnergies.
The company, which shows no sign of transitioning away from oil and gas, can use this finance to continue its strategy of developing new oil and gas projects in 53 countries, including Mozambique, Papua New Guinea and South Africa.
Finance raised via bonds is used for “general corporate purposes” and so can be used by the company as they wish. The map of countries where TotalEnergies is active and/or planning new projects is available here.
Bonds are particularly useful to TotalEnergies given that some banks, particularly French banks, have pledged to stop directly financing some of its more controversial projects such as the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) or Papua LNG.
Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas, Société Générale and BPCE/Natixis have said they will not finance the controversial Papua LNG project in Papua New Guinea and TotalEnergies announced on 8 April that the project’s Final Investment Decision has been postponed yet again, to 2025.”
By helping TotalEnergies to raise money on the bond market, they are indirectly enabling it to finance these projects.
Bonds are more discreet than project financing and provide TotalEnergies with a veritable El Dorado. It’s mind blowing to see that the financial players involved in Total’s latest bond are agreeing to finance Total until 2064! It is more than time that the investors and the banks behind these colossal transactions recognized their responsibility in financing Total’s climate-wrecking strategy.
The NGOs are calling on the banks to commit to no longer facilitating the issue of new bonds by TotalEnergies or any other company developing new oil and gas projects. They are also calling on investors to stop investing in new bonds issued by TotalEnergies and to make a public commitment not to invest in bonds issued by any company developing new oil and gas projects.
With 10 of TotalEnergies; 45 active bonds due to expire by the end of 2025, it is possible that the company will seek to renew them in order to raise capital. Four bonds mature in 2024 and six mature in 2025.
Faced with this risk, 58 NGOs have sent an open letter to the banks and investors involved in TotalEnergies’ most recent bonds, including Abrdn, Allianz, Amundi, BlackRock, Bank of America, Barclays, NatWest, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale asking them not to renew their support.Find the briefing here.
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*With Reclaim Finance. Source: BankTrack

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