The list below is ordered at three levels of gravity, in terms of how serious WSRW assess the negative consequences of their involvement. The ordering is roughly done, based on 1) the role of the company in the operation; 2) the type of involvement (resource extraction, strategic infrastructure construction etc); 3) the length/scope of the involvement.
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1. Particularly serious involvement
OCP S.A., Morocco/Ireland OCP is a state-owned Morocco phosphate production and export company. Most of OCP’s operations are uncontroversial, located within the internationally recognized borders of Morocco. One mine, however, is located in occupied Western Sahara. The Bou Craa mine has been operated by OCP since 1975. OCP’s bonds were floated on the Irish Stock Exchange in 2014. The controversies, volume and value of OCP’s exports of phosphate rock from Western Sahara, is covered in the annual reports from Western Sahara Resource Watch called P for Plunder. Through the operation of the mine in Western Sahara, OCP is a key source of illegal income for the Morcocan government in the territory that it occupies.
Sinofert Holdings, Hong Kong/China Sinofert imports phosphates from occupied Western Sahara from late 2018. The company is 22% owned by Nutrien Ltd, and 52,7 percent controlled by the Chinese government-owned Sinochem group. WSRW contacted the company on 19 January 2019, and not yet received a response. New info on the trade will be published in the annual WSRW reports called P for Plunder, published first quarter of each year.
Coromandel International Ltd, India Coromandel is the second biggest phosphatic fertiliser player in India and is registered on the National Stock Exchange of India. The company received a cargo of phosphate rock in January 2019. WSRW contacted the company, and has not received a response. New info on the trade will be published in the annual WSRW reports called P for Plunder, published first quarter of each year.
San Leon Energy PLC, Ireland Registered on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London, San Leon Energy, holds a petroleum agreement onshore Western Sahara. San Leon undertook the first ever oil drilling onshore occupied Western Sahara in 2015. Thousands of refugees protested the company’s operations. In 2016, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, excluded San Leon due to its “particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms”. In October 2018, a complaint was filed to the National Contact Point of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Companies in Ireland, regarding San Leon's breach of respecting the Saharawi people's rights. As of 2019, the company fails to keep investors updated on whether it still holds a licence in the territory.
Siemens AG, Germany and SiemensGamesa, Spain Siemens in 2012 announced that it had won several tenders of the Moroccan government for construction of wind parks in occupied Western Sahara. The parks are commissioned by Morocco’s national agency for electricity, ONEE. Siemens collaborates on all projects with the Moroccan wind energy company NAREVA – which owned by a holding company of the King of Morocco. Several new projects have been won and commenced since 2012. Most controversial of all the Siemens constructions, is the Foum el Oued wind park raised in 2013. Foum el Oued, consisting of 22 wind mills, today supplies 95% of the energy needs of the phosphate mine of Phosboucraa. In other words: practically all energy required for the exploitation and transport of the phosphate rock in Western Sahara, is generated by wind mills delivered by Siemens. The green energy production is thus making Morocco’s plunder of the territory even more lucrative. In 2016, Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) wrote a report on Siemens’s operations in Western Sahara. In 2018, Siemens built the 200 MW windfarm Aftissat in the occupied territory. Siemens has failed to answer questions on whether it has obtained consent from the representatives of the Saharawi people, both in letter correspondence by WSRW, by investors, and by shareholders at the AGM.
Nutrien LtD, Canada The company owns 22% of the shares in the Chinese company Sinofert Holdings, which imports phosphates from Western Sahara. Nutrien was established in January 2018 as a merger of the two fertilizer companies Agrium and PotashCorp, two companies that at the time together accounted for 50% of all all purchases of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara. The new company management announced on 25 January 2018 that all imports to the legacy company Agrium were to terminate by end of 2018. The company then announced on 1 August 2018 its coming closure of the fertilizer plant in Geismar, Louisiana, USA, which used to be operated by the legacy company PotashCorp. The company has allegedly, as late as January 2019, informed owners that no further inolvement are taking place from 31 December 2018. WSRW has observed no vessels departing from Western Sahara to Nutrien plants in Canada/US from 1 January 2019 until today.
Société d'Exploitation des Ports SA, Morocco (or Marsa Maroc) A Moroccan company registered on the Casablanca Stock Exchange, that operates the El Aaiun and Dakhla ports - both key hubs for exports of resources out of the territory.
2. Serious involvement
Continental AG, Germany A subsidiary of German company Continental, ContiTech, plays a key role in the maintenance of OCP’s long belt carrying phosphate rock from the mine out to the sea. The company states having supplied systems allowing a throughput on the belt of “2000 metric tons per hour and a belt speed of over four meters per second”. Continental has explained that it receives continuous orders to the Bou Craa conveyor belt. In April 2017, the company began constructing belt components in a proper factory in Morocco. Its current contract expires on 20 June 2020. At the 2019 AGM, Continental stated that the contract expires in July 2020. As of October 2020, the company has still not clarified whether it will continue supplying to the Bou Craa mine.
Worley Ltd, Australia The Australian company Worley Ltd. is a co-owner with Phosboucraa of an integrated fertilizer production platform and a new phosphate wharf. The operation is done through a 50/50 joint-venture company with OCP for called JESA (Jacobs Engineering SA). The latter is described as a Moroccan construction and engineering firm. JESA has projects in Morocco, and in other African countries. JESA is also described as the project owner of the Foum El Oued Technopole project. WSRW has not yet written to the company.
Enel SpA, Italy Enel has since 2012 taken part part in the construction of wind parks. The work is undertaken by its subsidiary Enel Green Power SpA. The role of Enel is described in the report Powering the Plunder by Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) in 2016. WSRW has repeatedly asked the company what steps have been taken to obtain the consent from the people of the territory. The company has never responded. Enel's sustainability reports refer to a so-called 'consultation' process with the local population. This can not replace the act of obtaining consent from the representatives of the people.
Hitachi Ltd., Japan and ABB, Switzerland/Sweden Swedish-Swiss company ABB was selected to build the first hybrid substation for a wind farm in Western Sahara. The company declared on 7 July 2017 its operation, but without specifying its location. Find the original press release here. The work relates to the construction of Morocco’s so-called Aftissat wind farm. ABB confirmed to the association Terre des hommes on 11 June 2018 that the power station was indeed intended for the Aftissat wind farm in Boujdour, Western Sahara. See also NZZ. ABB’s power grids sector was taken over by Hitachi in 2020. From 1 July 2020, ABB’s ownership in that joint-venture, called Hitachi ABB Power Grids, is 19,9% owned by ABB, with Hitachi owning the remaining 80,1%. WSRW sent a letter to the new joint-venture in August 2020, requesting it to clarify its current contractual obligations in Western Sahara. No reply was received. A letter was sent from Friends of Western Sahara Japan, terre des hommes schweiz, Switzerland, Emmaus Stockholm, Sweden to Hitachi on 19 December 2019. The company responded that "Negotiations regarding the acquisition of ABB's power grid business are proceeding smoothly.Hitachi is promoting the clearance of competition laws around the world, and advancing as scheduled toward the completion of the acquisition in the first half of 2020. Therefore, we are very sorry we can't answer at this time.Thank you for your understanding."
HeidelbergCement AG, Germany Operates a cement factory near El Aaiún, the capital city of Western Sahara. Western Sahara Resource Watch has confronted the company regarding the operations, but no response has been received by our association. The matter of Western Sahara was addressed at the HeidelbergCement AGM of 2019 and in 2020, but the company did not respond to questions regarding consent of the Saharawi people.
Fugro NV The Dutch company Fugro in December 2019 assisted in the laying of a subsea telecom cable offshore Dakhla, despite having promised in 2010 “to abstain from any further involvement in Western Sahara until the political situation has been resolved". Fugro had not obtained consent from Polisario, but stated it had contacted Polisario prior to the engagement.
Deutsche Post DHL Group Deutsche Post's subsidiary DHL opened an express branch in El Aaiún in 2016. In media statements and on website, the company refers to Western Sahara as located in Morocco. The company was challenged about the matter at the 2020 AGM, and commented on the engagement to the newspaper Responsible Investor on 28.08.2020.
BNP Paribas, France French bank with office in occupied territory. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
Société Générale, France French bank with office in occupied territory. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
Crédit Agricole, France French bank with office in occupied territory. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
Attijariwafa Bank, Morocco The Moroccan bank has a large market share in the economy of the occupied territories, they boast of “having almost a 25% market share in the Southern Provinces”[or download], with 8 offices in el El Aaiun, 3 in Dakhla and others in Smara and Boujdour. The bank is reportedly also building a “Dar Al Moukawli” center (business hub initiative by AWB Group) in El Aaiun, and it is opening up a fourth office in Dakhla. Attijariwafa is also focusing on supporting investment project holders as well as SMEs with public markets in the occupied territories. The Attijariwafa bank Group has a market share in the occupied territories of around a quarter in both the distribution of loans and the collection of deposits. Attijariwafa Bank reportedly gave loans to build the Aftissat wind farm near Boujdour in the occupied territory [or download]. The loans were given to Energie Eoliene du Maroc (75% owned by Nareva) who is developing the Aftissat wind farm. In 2014 the bank put up a conference to explore and attract the increasing of business activities in the territory [or download]. Main points were the potential for doing businesses mainly in Dakhla and El Aaiun (in the phosphates, fisheries and tourism sectors) and opening up the occupied territories to international businesses. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
BMCE Bank, Morocco As of 12 Dec 2018, the Moroccan bank's website enlists 8 offices in Western Sahara (4 in El Aaiun, 1 in Smara, 1 in Boujdour, 2 in Dakhla). The bank holds a partnership with the French Chamber of Commerce in Morocco, whereby they jointly train and form people in the finance sector in El Aaiun, and promote a "Club" for small and medium sized enterprises in El Aaiun (see here [or download] and here [or download]). WSCUK confronted the company on 22 January 2019.
Agence Française de Développement, France AFD has a dual status, being both a French public undertaking as an EPIC (“Etablissement Public à Caractère Industriel et Commercial”) and a finance company (“Société de Financement”) regulated by the national banking authority (ACPR). It is thus possible to invest in bonds in AFD. In 2012, AFD signed an agreement with OCP for the financing of a desalination plant dedicated for the basic processing of phosphate rock at the Phosboucraa installations. WSRW has never confronted the agency.
Alstom, France Company equipment and operations have several times been seen in the occupied territory. Alstom's power and grid businesses was in 2015 acquired by General Electric, which in 2013 reponded positively to a request from WSRW to withdraw from a tender on renewable energy. WSRW has confronted neither Alstom nor General Electric since.
Engie, France In 2018, the French electric utility company won a tender for a desalinization plant in the occupied city of Dakhla, according to the news service Africa Intelligence. The tender was won in partnership with the company Nareva, which is owned by the Moroccan king's holding company. The company supposedly in 2016 signed a comprehensive agreement [or download] with the same Nareva in the renewable energy sector. According to the website thewindpower.net, the company has a co-ownership stake (together with NAREVA) in two wind farms in the occupied territories of Western Sahara: the Foum El Oued [or download] wind farm and the Aftissat [or download] wind farm. In 2016, according to its own website [or download], ENGIE announced its participation in a Moroccan university complex 13 km from the occupied capital of Western Sahara, El Aaiun. The company calls the location as “in the Moroccan desert”. In 2013, the company (at the time called GDF Suez) took part in the tender for the Tiskrad and Boujdour wind parks, but did not win it. WSRW wrote the company on 2 July 2013 regarding its participation in the tender, without receiving an answer. The letter was directed at International Power PLC from the UK - then a subsidiary of GDF Suez, today renamed Engie Energy International, and wholly owned by ENGIE. Western Sahara Resource Watch and the French association APSO wrote the company on 11.01.2019. Engie did not respond.
Veolia, France Veolia, together with fellow French company Voltalia, bid in 2018 to develop a planned desalinization plant in the occupied city of Dakhla, only to lose out to the Engie-Nareva partnership. See here and here. The company built a 26,000 m³/day reverse osmosis desalination plant in occupied El Aaiun in 2010 (according to this Veolia presentation from 2017 [or download]). According to a 2013 press release by Veolia, the company tried to “sell its Moroccan water, wastewater and electricity services, operated by concession companies Redal and Amendis” to British private equity firm Actis. Although Veolia and Actis reached a deal the Moroccan Ministry of Interior vetoed this sale. In 2014, the company filed an update on the US Securities and Exchange Commission noting that the sale to Actis was turned down, and the new plan of action would be to sell subsidiaries Redal and Amendis back to the Moroccan government. Veolia took part in a desalinisation conference in El Aaiun in 2008. WSRW received in approximately 2015 a picture of what appears to be Veolia equipment in Western Sahara. WSRW has never confronted the company.
3. Involvement of concern
ThyssenKrupp, Germany The company was awarded a contract for the construction of a cement factory in El Aaiun, 2016. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
Kosmos Energy Ltd, USA Kosmos’s first engagement in Western Sahara began in, on a license later to be called Boujdour Maritime. Its operatorship in that license was terminated, and the company withdrew from Western Sahara, on 21 December 2017. According to a statement by the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM in January 2018, it can be interpreted that Kosmos has left the door open to return to Western Sahara. Kosmos Energy has also maintained its website www.westernsaharaoil.com on which it describes its approach to the conflict, even after it terminated its interested on the Boujdour Maritime licence. In 2016, one of Kosmos Energy’s biggest owners, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, excluded Kosmos due to “particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms” in its oil exploration in the territory. Kosmos in 2014-2015 undertook the first ever oil drilling in Western Sahara waters since the occupation of the territory in 1975. Western Sahara Resource Watch in 2014 wrote a report about Kosmos Energy’s upcoming drilling operation.
Cairn Energy, UK Until 2017, Cairn Energy held a 20% interest in the Boujdour Maritime exploration licence, where Kosmos Energy was operator. Cairn and Kosmos carried out the first and only oil drilling ever taken place offshore Western Sahara since the occupation of the territory in 1975. The Boujdour Maritime licence was terminated on 21 December 2017. However, a statement from the operator Kosmos seems to have left the door open for a return to the territory. Cairn has not issued any statement clarifying that it does not intend to return.
Air France, France Subsidiary Transavia, co-owned with KLM, operates flight Paris-Dakhla. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
KLM, the Netherlands Subsidiary Transavia, co-owned with Air France, operates flight Paris-Dakhla. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
Abengoa, Spain In 2018, Spanish Abengoa, together with Saudi ACWA, jointly bid to build a desalination plant in Dakhla, occupied Western Sahara. According to Africa Intelligence, the duo was disqualified from the tender. Abengoa’s 2017 Annual Report (page 46), makes reference to a water project in Dakhla, without specifying whether it is the same as the tender they are supposed to have lost. In its website, Abengoa lists itself as having a “Permanent Presence” in Western Sahara. Abengoa’s subsidiary INABENSA also lists Western Sahara as part of Morocco on maps on its website. According to Abengoa’s 2017 Annual Report (page 46), the company is also involved –through frameworks contracts— in the development and maintenance of telecommunications infrastructure for Orange and INWI in both fibre optics and GSM, although it is not defined where these projects are. INWI and Orange are both present and operate in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
Axa SA, France French insurance company with subsidiary Axa Assurance Maroc operating in occupied territory. Complaint lodged by Polisario against the company with the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Paris on 18 October 2018. WSRW has so far not confronted the company.
03.12 - 2018Stock-exchange registered companies in occupied Western Sahara
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.