The power of finance: Remp from Baku oil to offshore wind

21 Sep 2009 admin

“Where are they now?” is one of the questions PLATFORM likes to ask about former BP & Shell corporate executives.Brian Anderson, head of Shell Nigeria in 1995 when Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed, is now CEO of Addax Petroleum operating in the Niger Delta, Cameroon and Gabon. Meanwhile John Manzoni, Head of BP Refining at the time of the Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 which killed 15 is now CEO of Talisman Energy. Talisman drills in Iraq, as well as indigenous Achuar territories in the Peruvian Amazon, where local communities oppose oil extraction and say the company is inciting conflict.

But a different future seems in store for one of Anderson & Manzoni’s contemporaries. Steve Remp – the man whoopened the Caspian oil industry to BP and Western oil companies in the 1990s – is going green.

Remp’s company Ramco – famous for its early moves into “risky” frontier regions like post-Soviet Azerbaijan and post-Saddam Iraq has announced a shift of strategy to focus on offshore wind power. The company will change its name to SeaEnergy PLC and “exit from existing interests in Oil & Gas in an orderly fashion to maximize value”. This will create the first UK listed company focused purely on offshore wind.

Did Steve Remp have a sudden change of heart and decide that foreign companies drilling wells in Iraq was not the best for climate or population? Possibly. But reading Ramco’s formal announcement to the London Stock Exchange also highlights the importance of campaigning to shift finance & bank lending from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

In June 2008 the Ramco Board stated that:

”it believed the two most significant energy stories of the next two or three decades would be the global growth in renewable energy and the opening of Iraq to western technology and that Ramco could be a player in both opportunities through its subsidiary and associate company activities.”

Hence Ramco created a dual strategy of focusing efforts on the establishment of an Iraq-based oil service company focused on drilling high productivity wells and on securing offshore wind acreage in the North Sea.

But by summer 2009 it had become apparent to the Board that:

“the cleantech or green investment funds, which are enthusiastic about the SERL team and its renewables strategy, are reluctant to invest either directly in SERL, a private subsidiary of Ramco, or in a listed plc with a significant oil and gas focus.

The Board, and its advisers, have considered and investigated various funding options open to SERL and have concluded that the best way for Ramco shareholders to retain the maximum interest in the valuation uplift the Board expect as SERL develops its offshore wind farm acreage, is for Ramco to make an orderly exit from its oil and gas interests and for it to become a renewable energy pure-play.”

Hence PLATFORM’s campaign to shift the flow of finance from fossil fuels to renewable energy.


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