Sign up for updates

BNP Paribas rules out underwriting of some oil and gas bonds

A few days before its annual general meeting, BNP Paribas has announced a new set of measures on oil and gas. As part of this policy, BNP Paribas SA will no longer help arrange bond deals if the issuer intends to use the proceeds to directly finance new fossil-fuel exploration and production.

While welcome, the measures announced are not enough to bring the bank in line with the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 1.5°C scenario projections or to meet the expectations of scientists and associations calling on BNP Paribas to stop financing oil and gas expansion. Reclaim Finance calls on BNP Paribas to follow through on its commitment and demand that the companies in its portfolios stop developing projects that it no longer intends to finance directly.

In addition to measures restricting its support for unconventional oil and gas, BNP Paribas has announced further steps to complement and clarify the measures announced in January. In particular:

  • It has expanded the previous commitment to no longer provide dedicated financing to new oil fields with a similar commitment for new gas fields.
  • It has committed not to finance Floating Production Storage and Offloading projects (FPSOs).

These additions to BNP’s policy, which complements the commitment to stop financing new oil fields, are not enough to meet the objective announced in January of reducing outstanding oil extraction and production financing by 80% by 2030, since the majority of BNP Paribas’ oil and gas financing is provided through financial services provided not to specific projects but to companies.


“We welcome BNP Paribas’ clarification as to how it intends to meet the targets announced in January. But precision and ambition are two different things and this new announcement is not enough to overturn the verdict given in January: BNP Paribas will still support its main clients, the European majors and other so-called integrated companies expansion plans, especially gas expansion, even though these companies do not have strategies in place that are in any way compatible with the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.”
– Lucie Pinson, Director of Reclaim Finance

The bank is committing to not directly fund specific oil and gas fields anymore. But they can still pile billions into the companies that are developing the oil and gas fields. That means that whilst this policy is good, it won’t really affect BNP’s flow of cash to some of the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel companies like Eni, Shell, BP and TotalEnergies.

Therefore not all bonds issued by oil and gas companies are covered by the bank’s commitments, and the monitoring of outstanding financing until 2030 still allows BNP Paribas to provide new financial services to TotalEnergies and others for many years. Since 2016, the bank, which is the largest banker to Shell, BP and ENI, has provided more than $45 billion to the top 9 European and US oil and gas companies – this represents 27% of the bank’s financing to the entire oil and gas sector. Even the measure on reserve-based lending could spare these companies.

BNP Paribas claims that these companies are in transition, an argument mainly based on their role in the development of “low carbon” projects. But this claim does not stand up to analysis: the Global Oil and Gas Exit List lists the 9 companies above as among the largest developers of new oil and gas fields and analysis of their production targets and capital expenditure shows that renewable energy remains the poor cousin in their strategies, accounting for well under 22% of their energy mix by 2030.

“Decarbonising one’s own balance sheet without decarbonising the real world is a futile approach and we call on BNP Paribas to follow through by requiring its clients to stop developing projects that it no longer intends to finance directly. It must make the cessation of oil and gas expansion a red line that must not be crossed, and commit to progressively restricting all financial services to companies that do not meet this demand. This is the only way in which BNP Paribas will be able to prevent and protect itself against the risks of a rapidly changing climate.”
– Lucie Pinson, Director of Reclaim Finance

Banks BNP Paribas