Oil & gas industry

... min read

When financing the production and processing of oil and gas, we differentiate between extracting oil and gas from the ground (upstream), transportation (midstream), and conversion into fuels (downstream). Looking at the part of that value chain that generates most of the climate impact, up until now we focused our climate actions on upstream oil and gas.

In developing ING’s energy strategy, we balance three key interests: the need to decarbonise to fight climate change, the need for energy to remain affordable for people and companies, and the need for security of the energy supply.

In order to balance all three interests, we plan to continue to provide financing to clients active in keeping oil and gas flowing to meet current and future (declining) demand as set out in the International Energy Agency’s net-zero by 2050 roadmap. We also invest in renewables, infrastructure for the electrification of the economy, and energy efficiency.

To tackle climate change, it’s clear that the oil and gas industry needs to change. We believe it’s our role to work with our clients to support them in their transition towards reaching climate goals. We see our role as facilitating change from the inside, setting strict policies on what we will and won’t finance and helping clients improve their sustainability practices.

While increasing investments in renewables, we will gradually reduce funding to upstream oil and gas by 12% by 2025 and 19% by 2030 [compared to 2019]. This puts us on track for minus 53% by 2040, in line with the IEA’s roadmap. We’re also including another part of the value-chain in our expanded approach: the trading of oil and gas. We aim to reduce the combined volume of traded oil and gas that we finance by the same reduction targets we’ve committed to for our upstream lending – minus 19% by 2030 in line with the IEA’s pathway. Because ING views gas as a bridging fuel in the energy transition, we expect the volume of gas financed to increase before it decreases. This means that we will reduce oil trade flows faster to ensure that the combined oil and gas volumes financed remain in line with the IEA pathway.

Massive investment in clean energy and infrastructure is required under the IEA’s roadmap, which will lead to a decrease in demand for fossil fuels. That reduced demand should be met by existing oil and gas fields, which means that in both the IEA’s and our view, no new fields should be needed. That’s why in March 2022, we announced that we will restrict dedicated upstream finance (lending or capital markets) for oil and gas fields approved for development after 31 December 2021. We expanded on this commitment in March 2023 by including dedicated midstream finance. While respecting our existing commitments, we’ll stop financing midstream infrastructural projects that specifically support new field development, for example pipelines built to unlock new fields.

Gas extraction

Natural gas is a relatively clean fossil fuel and ING finances gas extraction. However, there are concerns about certain extraction methods, such as hydraulic fracturing of shale. The potential effects of this technique raise concerns. In the US, shale gas takes a prominent role in the energy mix, accounting for almost 80% of all gas extraction. ING does have clients in the US with shale gas-related activities. Our policy envisages enhanced due diligence including specific requirements for clients involved in shale gas extraction. However, in Europe we do not finance the mining, exploration or upgrading of shale gas.

Oil exploration in the Arctic

We recognise the ecological sensitivities of oil exploration in the Arctic. Shipping and drilling activities linked to exploration may disturb marine wildlife. A potential oil spill could have serious consequences for vulnerable marine ecosystems.

ING finances various clients and activities in the oil and gas industry. However, we do not provide project finance services for Arctic onshore or offshore oil and gas exploration and infrastructure.

We hold limited indirect exposure to certain activities in the Artic through clients that we finance, such as those supplying equipment used by oil and gas companies, and shipping companies transporting goods and supplies to oil and gas companies.

All our clients, including those providing services to companies operating in the Arctic, must comply with ING’s Environmental & Social Risk policy framework.

Oil sands

Oil sands, also known as tar sands or bituminous sands, are composed of a tar-like substance that is processed into oil.

Processing oil sands is known to be energy intensive, producing significant greenhouse gas emissions, contaminating water and impacting land through its substantial surface mining activities. This is in addition to potential social impacts, such as on the local native tribes historically using the land.

ING does not engage in transactions that are directly linked to the mining, exploration, transportation and processing of oil sands. As a result of our policy (in place since December 2012) we won’t finance the following oil pipe projects: TransMountain pipeline, Keystone XL, Energy East or Line 3.

Oil and gas in Ecuador and Peru

Indigenous people living in the Sacred Headwaters region of the Amazon in Ecuador and Peru have called on banks to stop financing oil development in the region, as it poses a threat to them and the surrounding ecosystem.

ING does not finance the exploration and production of oil and gas in the Amazon in Ecuador and Peru. We decided at the beginning of 2021 not to enter into new contracts for exports from Ecuador. In November 2021 we extended this to Peru where we will also not enter into contracts for exports.

We have no financial exposure to oil and gas exploration and production projects in the Amazon in Ecuador and Peru. The Sacred Headwaters region is largely an internationally protected area. ING has a policy framework that prohibits direct engagement in internationally protected areas.

Furthermore, we apply set criteria when financing on-the-ground assets, also in regard to Indigenous communities. For example, projects financed under the Equator Principles framework require the ‘free prior and informed consent’ (FPIC) of affected communities if the project has impacts on ancestral land or uses resources within an Indigenous population's territory.

Given that we are involved in the financing of companies that buy and trade oil from the region, and that our policy for example under the Equator Principles is out of scope as it does not apply to trade finance, we decided to research the concerns expressed by local communities in 2021. We are also engaging our clients on the subject. In the meantime, we will not enter into in any new contracts for the financing of Amazon oil and gas trade flows from Ecuador and Peru.

We will continue our monitoring and engagement with existing clients on the topic, in line with our view on positively using leverage (read more in the Human Rights section).

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