Norwegian NCP will consider complaints against AkerBP and Aker
The National Contact Point for Responsible Business Norway (NCP) admitted the complaints against Norwegian oil company Aker BP and its largest shareholder Aker that were brought by 8 South Sudanese and European organizations. They argue that Aker BP’s merger with Lundin Energy’s oil and gas business breached the human rights clauses of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and that victims of war crimes may be forever denied justice as a result of it. The Norwegian Government expects Norwegian enterprises to comply with the OECD Guidelines. The NCP is an independent advisory body appointed by the government to provide advice and guidance about the Guidelines.
The NCP will now invite the parties for a dialogue and mediation process to resolve whether the two companies conducted adequate human rights due diligence on the merger. All parties have expressed their willingness to participate in good faith to the process, that would typically take between 6 and 12 month. If unsuccessful, the NCP will carry out a new assessment of the matter, but the Complainants trust that this will not be necessary.
The complaints argue why Aker BP’s acquisition will foreseeably compel Lundin Energy (now renamed Örron Energy) to fail its responsibility under the OECD Guidelines as Örron Energy will not be able to pay the debt to victims of gross human rights violations. The OECD Guidelines say that companies who cause or contribute to adverse human rights impacts must provide remedy.
Shortly before the merger was announced, Lundin Energy’s representatives Ian Lundin and Alex Schneiter were charged with complicity in grave war crimes, crimes that by their nature cause severe damages and harm to people. The trial will start on September 5th 2023.
The key issue for discussion is whether Aker BP and Aker identified, prevented, mitigated and accounted for the human rights impacts of business decisions, as the OECD Guidelines expect them to do. The Complainants argue that Aker BP and Aker ignored the human rights legacy of Lundin Energy in South Sudan and did not duly consider the risk of leaving it with insufficient means to pay likely debts to victims of gross human rights abuses. They argue that, consequently, together with Lundin’s assets, Aker BP and Aker also acquired Lundin’s human rights legacy.
The companies and the complainants have expressed their willingness to participate in a mediation process under the auspices of the NCP, which normally takes 6 to 12 months.