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Wells Fargo Joins U.S. Banks Declining To Fund New Arctic Oil Projects

Wells Fargo has become the third major U.S. bank to stop financing new oil and gas projects in the Arctic, joining the likes of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan in a global drive of banks declining financing for the dirtiest fossil fuels and for projects in sensitive areas.

In an updated policy guide on corporate responsibility, Wells Fargo says that “Wells Fargo does not directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) – part of a larger 2018 risk-based decision to forego participation in any project-specific transaction in the region.”

Wells Fargo will not extend credit or facilitate transactions for coal projects involving mountain top removal (MTR) or to coal producers engaged in MTR mining, the bank says in its Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) framework and policies.

Referring to Arctic oil, Wells Fargo’s spokesman David Kennedy said in an emailed statement to Anchorage Daily News:  

“Our policy applies only to project finance in the region.”

“We have ongoing business relationships with numerous companies involved in the oil and gas industry in the Alaska Arctic region and expect to continue those relationships long into the future,” Kennedy added.

Wells Fargo is now the third U.S. bank that has vowed to stop financing new oil and gas projects in the Arctic region over the past three months.

In December, Goldman Sachs said it would decline financing for new Arctic oil exploration and production and for new thermal coal mine development or strip mining, which made the investment bank the U.S. bank with the strongest restrictions on funding fossil fuels.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase said it would not provide project financing or other forms of asset-specific financing for new oil and gas development in the Arctic. The bank also pledged not to provide lending, capital markets, or advisory services to companies whose revenues come mostly from coal, and to phase out its remaining credit exposure to such companies by 2024. JPMorgan also stops financing coal-fired power plants unless such plants utilize carbon capture and sequestration technology.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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