The Norwegian National Contact Point (NCP) has published its decision to accept the complaints filed by Swedwatch and several other civil society organizations regarding potential human rights impacts resulting from the merger of Lundin Energy’s Norwegian oil and gas operations and Norwegian oil company Aker BP. Separate complaints were filed for Aker BP and for Aker ASA. 

According to the initial assessment by the NCP there is cause to examine if sufficient human rights due diligence was conducted when the acquisition was made. According to the complaints, Aker BP and principal shareholder Aker ASA did not comply with the OECD Guidelines in connection with the merger. 

Human Rights Due Diligence is a process where companies identify, prevent, mitigate and openly accounts for how they have acted in cases where its business have had negative impact on human rights. 

The NCP will now invite the parties for a dialogue and mediation process to resolve the issue. Swedwatch welcomes this decision and is confident that all parties will participate in good faith. 

We look forward to finding good solutions together with Aker BP and Aker ASA that are in line with the OECD guidelines. Hopefully this can contribute to a better understanding of business responsibility when business relationships inflict harm on local populations,” says Olof Björnsson, researcher at Swedwatch who has covered the issue for several years and is the author of the report Fuel for Conflict on the responsibilities of institutional investors with shares in Lundin Energy. 

Swedwatch and the other complainants argue that the transfer of assets to Aker BP risks leaving Lundin’s successor company Örron Energy with insufficient funds to provide remedy for South Sudanese victims - ie those that have been affected negatively by Lundin Energys business in the area, something numerous of reports have shown. However, the NCP will only examine whether the company has  conducted Human Rights Due Diligence to as outlined in the OECD Guidelines. 

Background

Between 1997 and 2003, Lundin prospected for oil in Southern Sudan. At the time Sudan was engulfed by civil war. In November 2021, Lundin Energy’s chairman Ian Lundin and former CEO Alex Schneiter were indicted for complicity in war crimes committed by the then Sudanese regime with the purpose of securing their oil operations in Sudan. (Since 1997, the company’s name changed from International Petroleum Company to Lundin Oil, Lundin Petroleum, Lundin Energy and most recently Örron Energy.) 

At the time, a Canadian Government mission and consecutive UN Special Rapporteurs warned that oil exacerbated the war and had dramatic consequences for civilians. Numerous human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, reported how the activities of oil companies were directly linked to gross and systematic human rights violations. 

In December 2021, Lundin Energy announced a merger with Aker BP, whereby Aker BP would acquire Lundin Energy’s core assets, the oil and gas operations in Norway. As part of this deal all costs and liabilities related to the activities in Sudan would remain with Lundin. But since the net asset value of the company would be dramatically reduced, the complainants argued that the company no longer had the means to remediate any such impacts.  

On May 31st 2022, Swedwatch and seven other organizations filed complaints against Aker BP and its main shareholder Aker ASA, for failing to comply with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. All OECD member states are committed to promoting the guidelines, that expect businesses to respect human rights.  

The National Contact Points NCPs are agencies established by governments to promote the OECD Guidelines and to handle complaints through a non-judicial grievance mechanism. The Norwegian NCP is an independent expert body appointed by the Norwegian Government. It can offer mediation and examine complaints. Decisions by the NCP are not binding. However, they carry a strong informal authority.

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  • Focus Areas: High-risk and conflict areas
  • Industry: Energy
  • Publication: Article

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Olof Björnsson, Programme Officer