Kosmos Energy and Cairn Energy excluded by the Norwegian Pension Fund due to their activities in the Western Sahara

On the 28th of June 2016 the Norwegian Pension Fund excluded the companies Kosmos Energy Ltd. and Cairn Energy Plc. due to serious violations of ethical norms. The council on ethics recommended the exclusion of the companies in February 2016, referring to the unacceptable risk that they violate fundamental ethical norms through their hydrocarbon exploration offshore Western Sahara1.

The territory of the Western Sahara is a so called non-self-governing territory, which means it does not have a recognised administering power and is therefore not regarded as an autonomous region. On grounds of international law, the will and interests of local people must be considered when exploiting natural resources in non-self-governing territories. The council on ethics has found that this requirement has not been met, because the two companies have not been in touch with the organization Polisario, which the UN regards as the representation of the local people in the area. According to the council on ethics it is however known that Polisario regards the exploration activities as unlawful.

Kosmos Energy and Cairn Energy are currently mapping petroleum resources in the region. Regardless of whether the companies will drill this oil in the future or not, in the councils view they are actively contributing to Morocco’s aim to exploit petroleum in the region.

The council also claimed that the companies’ activities help to maintain the unsolved situation in the region of the Western Sahara.

The Norwegian Pension Fund has clear ethical guidelines, which form the grounds on which to exclude companies from financing should their activities not be in line these. For example, this year fifty coal companies were excluded due to their contribution to climate change2.

A list of all companies excluded by the Norwegian Pension Fund is available here.

Shareholders of Cairn Energy according to Morningstar.

Shareholders of Kosmos Energy Ltd. according to Morningstar.


  1. http://etikkradet.no/files/2016/06/ENG-Rec-Kosmos-and-Cairn-.pdf 08.02.2016, last review 18.07.2016 []
  2. https://www.nbim.no/contentassets/08b0787eae8a4016bd06bfeba0067e32/20160414-grounds-for-decision—product-based-coal-exclusions.pdf, 14.4.2016, aufgerufen am 29.06.2016 []