On 31 March 2022, eight civil society organisations from South Sudan (Civil Society Coalition on Natural Resources, Liech Victims Voices, South Sudan Council of Churches), Norway (Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian People’s Aid), Sweden (Swedwatch, Global Idé), and the Netherlands (PAX) (‘the complainants’), representing an estimated 200,000 South Sudanese victims of alleged gross and systematic human rights violations, filed a complaint against Aker BP ASA (‘Aker BP’) and Aker ASA. Aker ASA is the main shareholder of Aker BP.
The complainants allege that Aker BP did not comply with the OECD Guidelines in its acquisition of over 96% of the net value of Lundin Energy AB (‘Lundin Energy’), an oil and gas company which they argue is directly linked to gross and systematic violations of international humanitarian law and other egregious human rights abuses in South Sudan. They say that the acquisition establishes a direct link between Aker BP and the abuses in South Sudan. According to the complainants, the acquisition of Lundin Energy’s oil and gas assets by Aker BP means that the former will lack sufficient resources to remedy the thousands of people who were allegedly impacted by the company’s operations during the civil war in Sudan. Due to the merger, Lundin Energy retains responsibility for the abuses in South Sudan while at the same time no longer being able to pay reparations to the alleged victims. The merger therefore deprives Lundin Energy of the ability to fulfil its responsibility under the OECD Guidelines as it deprives it of the means to adequately address the severe ongoing (unremediated) impacts. The complainants claim that through adequate human rights due diligence, Aker BP should have known about the impact of its merger with Lundin Energy. The fact that it seemingly did not carry out due diligence on the merger constitutes a failure to comply with the Guidelines.
The complainants allege that Aker ASA, being the main shareholder of Aker BP, substantially contributed to the realisation of the merger between Aker BP and Lundin Energy. They argue that both Aker ASA and Aker BP failed to conduct human rights due diligence on the merger, did not meaningfully engage with stakeholders, and contributed to the facilitation of ongoing (unremediated) human rights impacts.
The complainants also refer to ongoing proceedings by the Swedish Prosecution Authority (principal agency in Sweden responsible for public prosecutions), which has indicted two Lundin Energy executives for their complicity in war crimes. Swedish prosecutors have also announced that they will request the court to declare Lundin Energy’s operation in South Sudan a criminal enterprise and to forfeit all profits from the purchase.
The complaint was filed prior to the finalisation of the merger and sought suspension of the merger until such a time as Aker ASA carried out due diligence in accordance with the Guidelines. Among other things, they also sought for Aker BP to take all necessary measures to ensure that the merger agreement will be amended so that Lundin Energy retains sufficient financial means to provide effective remedy to victims of the human rights violations that the company stands credibly accused of having contributed to.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter II
- Chapter II Paragraph A10
- Chapter II Paragraph A12
- Chapter II Paragraph A14
- Chapter IV
- Chapter IV Paragraph 1
- Chapter IV Paragraph 3
- Chapter IV Paragraph 5
- Chapter IV Paragraph 6
On 27 February 2023, the Norwegian NCP partially accepted the complaints against Aker BP and Aker ASA and offered its good offices to the parties. The NCP determined that the parts of the complaints that merit further consideration were questions concerning the companies’ due diligence with regards to human rights in connection with the merger.
- Company in violation
- Other companies involved
- Affected people
- Eight civil society organisations from South Sudan, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands vs. Aker BP ASA and Aker ASA