These Banks Are Financing a Pipeline That Will Let Big Oil Move More Barrels a Day Than Keystone XL or Dakota Access

On June 27, news broke that these financial institutions just financed Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline by participating in a brand new $5.5 billion (Canadian) project loan:


Lead banks

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) (C$415 M) (US$320 M)

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) (C$415 M) (US$320 M)

Scotiabank (C$415 M) (US$320 M)

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) (C$415 M) (US$320 M)

Participants

Bank of America (C$315 M) (US$243 M)

Bank of Montreal (C$315 M) (US$243 M)

Barclays (C$315 M) (US$243 M)

JPMorgan Chase (C$315 M) (US$243 M)

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (C$315 M) (US$243 M)

Mizuho Financial Group (C$315 M) (US$243 M)

National Bank of Canada (C$315 M) (US$243 M)

China Construction Bank (C$250 M) (US$193 M)

HSBC (C$200 M)

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (C$200 M)

Suntrust Bank (C$200 M) (US$154 M)

Alberta Treasury Branches (C$150 M) (US$116 M)

FIPPGV/PX (C$150 M) (US$116 M)

Desjardins (C$145 M) (US$112 M)

Bank of China (C$80 M) (US$62 M)

Siemens (C$80 M) (US$62 M)

United Overseas Bank (C$80 M) (US$62 M)

Canadian Western Bank (C$50 M) (US$29 M)

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (C$50 M) (US$29 M)

(As a first step in holding these banks accountable, tell them to drop their share of the project loan here.)

Financing

Kinder Morgan needs C$7.4 billion total (US$5.7 billion) for its Trans Mountain Expansion Project. They’ve found that money in a couple of ways. An initial public offering (IPO)—in which Kinder Morgan packaged up the Trans Mountain pipeline with a number of other Canadian assets and sold off shares—raised about C$1.75 billion (US$1.35 billion), though it wasn’t pretty.

Most of the rest of the money comes from a new C$5.5 billion (US$4.2 billion) project loan that was signed last Friday. The banks on the loan weren’t made public at the time, and here at RAN we’ve just uncovered them through research on our Bloomberg terminal.

There are four lead banks, all members of Canada’s Big Five: RBC, CIBC, Scotiabank and TD. Each of them is a joint-bookrunner and co-lead arranger, meaning they’re in charge of managing records, coordinating with the other banks on the deal, and filling other administrative needs. RBC is also the agent, which makes it the overall lead on the loan.

The other 19 financial institutions are all participants—which means they’ve provided varying amounts of capital, less than the lead banks (see chart above for their funding amounts).

According to Kinder Morgan’s IPO prospectus (see p. 101), technically this C$5.5 billion  (US$4.2B) deal has three separate parts:

  • a C$4 billion (US$3.1 billion)Construction Facility for building the pipeline,

  • a C$1 billion (US$770 million) Contingent Facility for additional construction costs, and

  • a C$500 million (US$286 million) Working Capital Facility for general corporate purposes.

Bloomberg—a standard source of financial data—classifies all C$5.5 billion (US$4.2 billion) as project finance, so consider it one big C$5.5 billion (US$4.2 billion) project loan, which Kinder Morgan Canada set up for the purposes of building the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

Among other things, that’s significant because it means the deal is subject to the Equator Principles, a set of due diligence procedures that determine, assess and manage social and environmental risk. Signatories follow these principles before doling out project finance—and 12 of these 23 financial institutions supporting Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain project are signed on to the Equator Principles.

The 17 banks on the project loan for the Dakota Access Pipeline were the ones that faced the most heat (and rightly so). Same thing here—these 23 financial institutions are the ones that will get the most pressure as it becomes increasingly undeniable what a disaster Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline is.

The whole package is a five-year loan, so Kinder Morgan will have access to this money until June of 2022.

It’s noteworthy that of the banks that underwrote the Kinder Morgan Canada IPO (see p. 7), three didn’t participate in this project loan: Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Société Générale.

It’s also noteworthy that 12 big banks that are lenders to Kinder Morgan at large didn’t participate in the project loan: BayernLB, BBVA, BNP Paribas, BPCE/Natixis, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, DNB, ING, Morgan Stanley, Regions Bank, UBS, and Wells Fargo.

In fact, two weeks ago, 20 Indigenous and environmental groups sent a letter to 28 banks—the 14 underwriters of the Kinder Morgan IPO and 14 current and past Kinder Morgan lenders—calling on them to stay away from the Trans Mountain loan. Of those banks, 13 did participate—but the 15 listed above didn’t.

In response to the letter, Dutch bank ING extended its tar sands policy to prohibit project-related finance for pipelines—explicitly ruling out project-related finance for Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain, as well as TransCanada’s Keystone XL and Energy East and Enbridge’s Line 3. ING also rules out project-related finance for tar sands exploration, mining and processing.

While there’s an urgent need to also prohibit financing the companies behind tar sands projects, they’re the current leader among global banks in moving away from a sector that has absolutely no place in a climate-stable world in which human rights are fully respected.

Impacts—and opposition

These 23 financial institutions are funding a fuse to one of the biggest carbon bombs on earth, despite direct opposition from First Nations along the pipeline’s route.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project would be a massive new tar sands pipeline from Edmonton, through Alberta and British Columbia, dumping out right next to Vancouver. This new pipeline would “twin” an existing pipeline, running alongside it and tripling overall capacity, up to 890 million barrels of tar sands oil a day—that’s more barrels a day than Keystone XL or the Dakota Access Pipeline. All along that route, the pipeline would threaten water, land, wildlife and local communities.

First Nations along the pipeline route are leading the opposition to the project. The Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, Musqueam, and Sto:lo First Nations, whose territories cover most of Metro Vancouver Area, are among the nine First Nations and Tribes currently in litigation against the project. The Coast Salish, Sto:lo, Nlaka'pamux, and Secwepemc Nations, whose territories cover more than half the length of the pipeline, have also filed legal challenges. The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, which is comprised of more than 120 First Nations and Tribes, stands in committed opposition to all tar sands pipelines crossing their traditional lands and waters—including this one—and has called for an international campaign to divest from any financial institution that funds them.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline would be devastating for the climate. We now know that even the oil, gas and coal from currently operating fields and mines would take us beyond 2°C of warming. Translation: Any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure definitively puts the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement out of reach. So stopping expansion of the dirtiest, most climate-destructive fossil fuels is an urgent priority—and that absolutely includes pipelines for tar sands, one of the dirtiest kinds of oil.

What comes next?

When it comes to big banks, ignore the advertising, discount the rhetoric, and follow the money. Every deal that a bank makes has impact, for good or for ill, so every deal is a test of a bank’s policies and its values. As the United Nations human rights commission reaffirmed just last week, banks can contribute to human rights abuses through their financing.  

That was the lesson that ING, DNB and BNP Paribas realized on the Dakota Access Pipeline—they didn’t want to fund a project that drove egregious Indigenous and human rights abuses. These three banks sold their share in the project loan, and in ING’s case went so far as to blacklist Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind DAPL.

In the meantime, the 23 financial institutions that just funded Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project have utterly failed to learn the lessons of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They’re quickly running out of time and options to extract themselves from this disaster.

But they have a short window of opportunity. Kinder Morgan plans to start constructing its pipeline as early as September 1. These 23 financial institutions have until then to follow ING, DNB and BNP’s example and sell their stake in the Trans Mountain project loan.

Tell them to do just that with a quick email today.

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