Heat Over Dakota Access Giving Norwegian Backers Cold Feet
Growing global attention to the fiercely-resisted four-state, US$3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline has prompted one key financial supporter to think about calling its loans to the project, almost 40% owned by Calgary’s Enbridge Inc.
“Norwegian bank DNB will reconsider its participation in the financing of the North Dakota oil pipeline if concerns raised by Native American tribes against its construction are not addressed, it said late on Sunday,” according to Reuters.
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The pipeline promises the fastest, most direct route to bring shale oil from North Dakota to industrial Illinois. But after being rerouted to avoid Bismarck, ND, out of concern for that city’s water supply, the line is now set to cross the Missouri River upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux reserve, threatening a tribal-owned water system as well as several sites sacred to the tribe.
“DNB looks with worry at how the situation around the pipeline in North Dakota has developed. The bank will therefore take initiative and use its position to bring about a more constructive process to find a solution to the conflict,” Norway’s largest bank said in a statement reported by Reuters.
“If these initiatives do not give appeasing answers and results, DNB will consider its further involvement in the financing of the project.”
Citing Norwegian daily Aftenposten, Reuters estimates the bank’s financial involvement in the pipeline at approximately US$342.36 million in loans, “or close to 10% of the cost of the project.”
Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama suggested the Army Corps of Engineers, whose approval is required for the line to cross the Missouri River, might reroute it again. But that has not yet happened, and DeSmogBlog reports that the pipeline’s builders have ignored Obama’s request to voluntarily stop construction on the contested section of the line until the tribe’s issues are resolved.