OSLO Feb 28 Norway's ruling parties have agreed
to study whether its $840 billion wealth fund, itself built on
oil revenues, should pull out of investing in oil, gas and coal
for environmental reasons, the Progress Party said on Friday.
The minority government and two small opposition parties
agreed to set up an independent panel to study the issue and
present its findings next year, potentially heralding one of the
biggest changes for the fund since it was set up in 1990.
The agreement also torpedoes a proposal by the opposition
Labour Party that would have required the fund to pull out of
coal firms relatively quickly, a motion that was gaining support
until the deal between the government and its outside backers.
The fund, which owns more than 1 percent of all global
shares, is one of the biggest investors in the energy sector and
had about $43 billion in oil and gas stocks at the end of the
third quarter, it said earlier.
Royal Dutch Shell, BG and BP were all
included in its top 10 equity holdings and 8.6 percent of its
equity portfolio was in oil and gas.
"This panel will study the advantages and disadvantages of
the fund's investments in fossil fuels," Progress Party
parliamentary group leader Harald Nesvik told Reuters.
"It won't just consider withdrawing, it will look at the
impact of a decision not to hold any shares in the sector."
Progress and the Conservatives rule in a minority and rely
on the centrist Liberal and Christian Democrats for support.
Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest,
regularly excludes companies or sectors from its investment
universe if its ethics council deems that a particular activity
It does not invest in tobacco producers and makers of
certain weapons, like cluster bombs and nuclear arms. It has
also excluded some of the world's biggest miners, accusing them
of causing severe environmental damage.
($1 = 6.0503 Norwegian krones)
(Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg; Editing by Catherine Evans)