Norway's $1T pension fund wants out of oil stocks

17 November, 2017, 02:06 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • $1tn Norwegian oil fund plans to ditch oil and gas stocks

The nation will be "less vulnerable" to a drop in oil by not being invested in stocks of companies in the industry, the Oslo-based fund said Thursday.

"It is not surprising that we see the world's largest sovereign wealth fund managers no longer prepared to take the increasing risk associated with oil and gas assets, which do not have a long-term future", said Paul Fisher of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, in an interview with the Guardian.

"There is a substantial difference.in return between the oil and gas sector and the broad stock market in periods when the oil price changes substantially".

The bank did not set a deadline for when the fund should drop its oil and gas holdings.

According to Norges Bank, their analysis of the oil price risk in Norway's overall wealth fund risk was based on future oil and gas revenues, and its direct holdings in Statoil and the GPFG. The government, which also controls Statoil ASA and offshore oil and gas fields, was forced to withdrew cash from the fund for the first time past year to meet spending commitments after oil prices dropped.

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The plan would entail the fund, which controls about 1.5% of global stocks, dumping as much as $40 billion of shares in worldwide giants such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell.

The fund could still invest in the sector if other parts of the fund's mandate are fulfilled by having some investments in some of the companies, Matsen said.

Nicolò Wojewoda of 350.org Europe was also hopeful about the implications of Norges Bank's decision, calling it "yet another nail in the coffin of the coal, oil, and gas industry".

The fund has grown so large that even though the Norwegian state is taking less than 3 per cent of the fund's value every year for its fiscal budget in recent years, oil spending now accounts for one in five crowns spent by the state. Green campaigners also welcomed the news.

However, ethical investment experts hailed Norges' retreat from fossil fuels.

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"But clearly the direction is that. if the ministry and the politicians think it is good advice and they say yes to it, clearly the investments in the oil and gas sector will decrease over time", he added. "The straight answer is that all other sectors would be weighted up in proportion".

The Finance Ministry said it would study the plan and come to a decision next autumn at the earliest.

Norway used oil revenue to build its national pension fund into a $1 trillion behemoth. The Government aims to conclude on this matter in the fall of 2018.

And analysts warned that the central bank's proposal could have a knock-on effect on the sector.

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