Norway took a partial step in divesting oil and gas stocks in its massive $1-trillion wealth fund, approving the sale of smaller exploration companies while sparing the biggest producers such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp.
After more than a year of deliberation, the government on Friday approved excluding 134 companies classified as exploration and production companies by FTSE Russell, including Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp., Cnooc Ltd. and Tullow Oil Plc. The proposal would see the fund sell about $7.5 billion in stocks, Bloomberg reported.
“It reflects to a larger extent the risk we ourselves have --- the bulk of the state’s exposure in Norway is upstream activity,” Finance Minister Siv Jensen said. “We are reducing our vulnerability by choosing to withdraw the fund gradually from this segment.”
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.
The plan was hailed as a potential huge step by climate activists, some of whom on Friday lamented the limited scope of the decision.
It has been a hot-button issue in Norway, which is seeking to project an image as a responsible environmental steward while pumping oil and gas at a fast clip.