Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) has become the latest major US bank to withdraw its support for financing of oil and gas projects in the Arctic.
Wells Fargo will not finance Arctic oil projects
The bank joins JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS), who have indicated that they won’t be providing any future investment funding for oil and gas projects in the arctic. Wells Fargo indicated that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the North Slope of Alaska is an area that it will avoid, and it will not be providing any further financing for projects in the area.
According to the bank’s updated policy, the bank does not finance directly gas and oil projects in the arctic region, which includes the ANWR. This is part of the company’s 2018 risk-based decisions to cease involvement in any project-specific transaction in the area.
In a statement, Wells Fargo indicated that its policy only applies to project finance in the region. The statement further indicated that the company has other relationships with other companies in the region involved in the oil and gas region, and they will continue with those relationships.
This move comes as the Trump administration continues to lease tracts of the wildlife refuge’s coastal plan to companies setting the stage for oil drilling exploration. In 2017 Congress approved oil drilling in the region.
Concerns over drilling in ANWR
However, there has been growing outcry from conservation activists and the Gwich’in tribal members as opposed to the drilling. They have called for banks to reject financing of projects in the refugee as part of plans of combating climate change. However, Alaskan leaders, including the Inupiat leaders, have also called for banks to reject the pleas of activists citing the state’s environmental standards and Alaska’s economic dependence on oil drilling.
Industry insiders in Alaska have indicated that reduced financial support for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic threatens future projects. Wells Fargo is the biggest bank in Alaska, and it holds deposits of around $6.1 billion.