Norway Gives $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Approval to Dump Some Oil Stocks

11 March, 2019, 10:38 | Author: Billie Castillo
  • Norway sovereign wealth fund

Norway's finance ministry proposed that the Government Pension Fund Global, the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, sell all stocks listed as exploration and production companies by FTSE Russell.

Climate crusaders celebrating Norway's proposal to divest its sovereign wealth fund from oil and gas stocks should pause before popping the carbon-neutral champagne.

The finance ministry said that pure oil and gas explorers would still be sold, but that integrated groups, which also refine crude oil and operate petrol stations, would not be included in the ban.

However, the fact the oil majors may be spared initially from the move did little to assuage investors, with shares in BP dropping 1.1% to 534.6p in lunchtime trading while Shell slipped 1.5% to 2,326p.

Norway is one of western Europe's biggest oil and gas producers.

Norway said the removal of upstream oil and gas assets from its fund would happen gradually, in consultation with Norges Bank.

The Norwegian government has recommended that the country's US$1 trillion wealth fund sell its holdings in a group of companies that focus on finding and producing oil and gas. The proposal would see a selloff of about $7.5 billion.

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The stocks to be sold are from a group of 134 companies labeled exploration and production firms by the London-based index provider FTSE Russell, a list that includes United States oil producer Occidental Petroleum and shale driller Pioneer Natural Resources.

"The oil industry will be an important and major industry in Norway for many years to come", it said in a statement. "However, it does send a clear signal that companies betting on the expansion of their oil and gas businesses present an unacceptable risk, not only to the climate but also to investors".

"They take on much bigger investments than renewable companies do".

The government goes part of the way in meeting a 2017 proposal from the fund, which rattled global markets by arguing for a full divestment of the sector to limit Norway's overall exposure to oil. These include Cairn Energy Plc, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp., Cnooc Ltd. and Tullow Oil Plc.

It was widely expected that the fund would dump all of its oil and gas investments for good.

Its investments in integrated firms at the end of 2018 included stakes of 2.45 percent in Shell, 2.31 percent in BP, 2.02 percent in Total, 0.99 percent in Chevron and 0.94 percent in ExxonMobil.

The government recommendation must still be approved by the country's parliament before going ahead.

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