Norway's $1 trillion oil fund may turn its back on oil

$1tn Norwegian oil fund plans to ditch oil and gas stocks

Norway's $1 trillion oil fund is planning to get out of oil

For that reason, in the strategy plan for Norges Bank Investment Management 2017-2019, the Executive Board states that in the period ahead, it will adopt a broader wealth perspective when advising the ministry.

The Scandinavian country is western Europe's biggest oil and gas producer.

Nonetheless, shares in major oil firms such as Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil all traded lower after the announcement. "Diversifying away now from fossil fuels, including oil and gas which faces an uncertain future, reduces the concentration risks in its investment portfolio whilst allowing it exposure to renewables which is one of the fastest growing business sectors in the world".

To decrease the government's vulnerability to oil and gas shocks, the bank proposed the fund remove oil and gas companies that are classified as such by the FTSE equity benchmark index from the GPFG's benchmark index.

If adopted by parliament, the fund would over time divest billions of dollars from oil and gas stocks, which now represent 6 percent - or around $37 billion - of the fund's benchmark equity index.

Norway's sovereign-wealth fund said on Thursday it may stop buying oil and gas stocks, a move that would deprive the energy sector of investment from a $1 trillion asset manager.

"During that time, the oil and gas sector will remain an important part of the global economy".

The fund said it doesn't expect returns or market risk to be affected "appreciably" by excluding oil and gas stocks.

Norway's largest private pension by value said that if the fund did ditch oil and gas stocks, the action could influence other investors.

The Bank's analyses of the oil price risk in the government's wealth are based on the government's future oil and gas revenues, the government's direct holdings in Statoil and the GPFG.

It isn't just the most recent downturn that Norway is anxious about.

Norges Bank underlines in a press-release that this advice is based exclusively on financial arguments and does not reflect any view on the sustainability of the oil and gas sector.

"We think there will be a large increase in the aggregate demand for energy as the world goes from seven billion people to almost 10 billion by 2050", said spokesman Dan Madge. Moreover, the Norwegian government owns a substantial portion of Statoil, making the country even more dependent on oil and gas revenues.

The sovereign wealth fund, fuelled by the state's oil revenues which have dropped sharply in recent years, is now worth around 8.24 trillion kroner (854 billion euros), invested primarily in shares (65.9 percent) as well as bonds and real estate. The fund's exposure to fossil fuel markets is now double that of a standard global fund, the Central Bank said.

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