A new research by Reclaim Finance reveals that ECB’s exceptional purchases of corporate bonds amid the Covid-crisis benefited to European oil and gas majors, in spite of the fact that these companies are planning a massive increase in fossil fuel production at odds with EU climate goals and the Paris Agreement. This support contradicts ECB’s climate promises and shows the limits of its new climate roadmap.

Titled “Spreading the fossil fuel pandemic: How the ECB’s Covid corporate asset purchases are supporting oil and gas expansion”, the briefing analyzes the evolution of ECB corporate asset purchase holdings from April 2020 to September 2021, a period marked by a massive increase of these purchases in a context of the Covid crisis. It reveals that these purchases notably benefited to five European oil and gas majors – Shell, TotalEnergies, Repsol, Eni and OMV.

The main findings are:

  • The ECB bought 15 bonds from Shell, TotalEnergies, Repsol, Eni and OMV from April 2020 to September 2021, increasing the number of bonds of these companies it holds by 16.2% to a 79 bonds.
  • The ECB notably acquired four bonds from TotalEnergies (+ 22.2%) and three from Eni (+ 20%). TotalEnergies is the main oil and gas major to have benefited from ECB’s purchases (22 bonds), followed by Eni (18 bonds) and Shell (17 bonds).
  • Some of TotalEnergies and Shell’s bonds held by the ECB won’t be repaid before 2040 and 2039 respectively. Similarly, the bank will keep bonds from Repsol, OMV and Eni until at least 2033, 2034 and 2031.
  • The ECB’s support to these oil and gas majors – that plan major fossil fuel expansion projects – is at odds with EU objectives and the Paris Agreement. It decredibilizes the ECB’s new climate roadmap that was published in July 2021, just as the ECB was purchasing fossil fuel bonds, and that does not ensure the end of the ECB’s support to these companies.