Home > TotalEnergies’ bankers deliver major blow to Papua LNG carbon bomb

TotalEnergies’ bankers deliver major blow to Papua LNG carbon bomb

29 February 2024

Crédit Agricole, Europe’s third largest bank, has delivered a major blow to TotalEnergies this week, declaring it will not finance Total’s proposed Papua Liquefied Natural Gas project (Papua LNG).

Despite being the financial advisor to the project, and one of TotalEnergies’ top bankers, Crédit Agricole has publicly refused to fund one of the companies flagship new gas projects, sending a clear signal that even the company’s biggest supporters don’t view Papua LNG as a good prospect.

The proposed project consists of entirely new onshore gas fields, four liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains, and a 320 km pipeline, developed by French oil and gas giant, TotalEnergies (37.55% stake), in partnership with notorious climate-wreckers ExxonMobil (37.04%), Santos (22.83%), and JX Nippon (2.58%).

The project presents severe environmental, human rights and climate risks, and – like all new gas projects – is completely incompatible with net-zero, and limiting global warming to 1.5°C. This carbon bomb will do enormous damage, with its total lifetime emissions estimated to be equivalent to the annual emissions of Bangladesh, a country of 170 million people.

Now three of Total’s biggest bankers (Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas and Société Générale) – arguably the financial institutions with the greatest understanding of the company – have all ruled out involvement. 

That brings the total number of banks that have rejected the project to eight: BNP Paribas, BPCE/Natixis, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, CIC/Crédit Mutuel, UniCredit, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac. 

Papua LNG has been struggling to attract the finance it needs to get the project up and running. In December 2023, PNG’s Minister for Petroleum and Energy said a final investment decision (FID) could be delayed until later in 2024, acknowledging that banks were reluctant to get involved. 

Just days ago, PNG Prime Minister, James Marape, confirmed an FID on the project will be delayed by months as it struggles to secure funding. This latest blow serves as a further warning to already wary investors and prospective lenders.

Of those prospective lenders, two of Australia’s biggest climate laggards ANZ and NAB are of particular concern.

ANZ has a history of financing gas expansion in Papua New Guinea. ANZ was one of the institutions that provided project finance to the devastating PNG LNG project. In April 2016 ANZ and Westpac contributed to a US$400 million credit facility for InterOil (acquired by ExxonMobil in 2017), with the money earmarked to develop “one of Asia’s largest undeveloped gas fields” in Papua New Guinea (Elk-Antelope).

ANZ also has an ongoing relationship with Santos, one of Papua LNG’s key developers, has publicly supported the project and was recently spotlighted as a potential financial backer.

ANZ is the biggest Australian banker of fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement ($18.6 billion), enabled by its woefully inadequate climate policy. The bank’s rampant financing of fossil fuel expansion has even resulted in it being the subject of a Federal Court action from one of its shareholders over its apparent failure to manage climate risk. Shamefully, ANZ is also the only big four Australian bank with an oil and gas policy still weak enough to enable it to directly fund new gas fields like the Elk-Antelope fields that would feed Papua LNG.

NAB is also a major concern, having two policy positions on gas that contradict each other. NAB has stated it “will not directly finance greenfield gas extraction projects outside Australia”, but also that it will “continue to support integrated liquified natural gas (LNG) in Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea and selected LNG infrastructure in other regions.” Papua LNG is an integrated LNG project that involves the development of a greenfield gas field. That means NAB financing Papua LNG remains a prospect, and NAB has funded new gas projects like Woodside’s Pluto 2 LNG and Coastal Gaslink Pipeline in recent years. 

Other banks of concern in the region include Bank of South Pacific (also publicly supporting the project) and the Japanese megabanks MUFG, SMBC, and Mizuho, which are all amongst the top LNG financiers in the world since the Paris Agreement was signed. 

To learn more about this disastrous project, visit the Papua LNG webpage of the Defund TotalEnergies campaign.

A version of this blog post is also available in Japanese: TotalEnergies(トタルエナジーズ )の主要銀行がパプアLNGへの資金提供拒否