ING reaches deal to sell loan to controversial US pipeline project

ING has reached an agreement on the sale of its controversial loan to the Dakota Access pipeline in the US.

The construction has prompted violent clashes between the army and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who say construction of the pipeline through northern Dakota could affect its drinking water supply and put communities ‘at risk of contamination by crude oil leaks and spills.’

‘The sale follows a constructive dialogue between ING and representatives from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and has the full support of the tribe,’ ING said in a statement.

ING officials met tribal leaders on February 10, during which ING said it was ‘willing to either continue trying to positively influence the course of the project, or to distance ourselves by selling our stake in the loan,’ the statement said.

‘In response, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe indicated it would appreciate ING selling its loan in the project, considering that there is less room for lenders to positively influence the project now that construction has resumed, and because it would be a valuable message supporting its call for respectful dialogue.’

Under the terms of the sale, which is expected to close shortly, ING will retain a potential risk in case of non-payment under the loan.

ING was one of 17 banks backing the project to the tune of $2.5bn. ING’s share amounted to some $120m.

ABN Amro

ABN Amro said in February it is prepared to stop financing one of the companies involved in building the pipeline if an acceptable solution to the problem is not found.

ABN Amro it is not directly funding the project but has a ‘relationship’ with one of the major investors, Energy Transfer Equity. The bank that if a solution is not found ‘the ultimate consequence will be discontinuation of the relationship’.

In the meantime, ABN Amro said it will not pursue any new business with ETE until ‘there is clarity regarding the situation and an acceptable outcome has been achieved’.