BNP Paribas stops funding shale energy firms, boosts green projects

FILE PHOTO: The logo of BNP Paribas bank is pictured on an office building in Nantes, France, July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

(Reuters) - BNP Paribas SA, France’s biggest listed bank, said on Wednesday it would no longer work with oil and natural gas companies that primarily do business in shale or oil sands because it plans to boost support for renewable energy projects.

The bank also said it would no longer finance new projects that are primarily involved in the transportation or export of oil and gas from shale or oil sands.

“We’re a long-standing partner to the energy sector and we’re determined to support the transition to a more sustainable world,” BNP Paribas Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe said in a statement.

The bank will also stop trading on behalf of exploration, production, marketing and distribution companies where shale or Canadian oil accounts for more than 30 percent of the business, a spokeswoman said. The transition will take place gradually, and oil refiners are not included.

The bank previously said it planned to spend 15 billion euros ($17.72 billion) to finance renewable energy projects by 2020 and invest 100 million euros in start-ups specializing in energy storage and efficiency.

The lender has already stopped financing coal mines and coal-fired power plants, and no longer supports coal companies that are not planning to diversify their energy sources.

BNP Paribas’s smaller rival, Societe Generale SA, said in October last year that it would quit financing coal-powered electricity plants beginning in January and increase its support for renewable energy projects.

($1 = 0.8465 euros)

Reporting by Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri and Jonathan Oatis