Brooks: OCC to Take ‘Serious Look’ at Oil and Gas Lending Decisions

The OCC will take a “serious look” at certain bank decisions not to lend to oil and gas projects in the Arctic, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks said in a letter to Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) last week. The letter, which was reported by Politico yesterday, came in response to concerns by Sullivan about financing for Alaska petroleum projects.

“Oil is the most actively traded commodity in the world,” Brooks wrote. “Given the industry’s importance and ubiquity in our daily lives, I am skeptical of claims that the sector poses a ‘reputational risk’ to the banks that serve it.”

Brooks said the OCC would analyze whether certain decisions on oil and gas lending “violate any duty or obligation under federal laws.” He specifically cited the Dodd-Frank Act mandate that the OCC ensure “fair access to financial services,” adding that “the OCC will examine the possibility of issuing regulations defining fair access to provide clarity to banks and customers alike.”