Norway oil fund poised to spend big

Norway’s 3-trillion-kroner ($521 billion) sovereign oil fund — or Government Pension Fund Global — aims to buy bigger than the one-percent of listed stocks worldwide that it already owns.

Norway oil fund poised to spend big
Oil fund manager Yngve Slyngstad

A recent purchase of rent-rich real estate in Regent’s Park and Paris offered the first sign that Yngve Slyngstad,  managing director of Norges Bank Investment Management, was acting on the funds vow to buy property.

Now Slyngstad says the world's biggest fund is aiming to splurge 100 billion kroner in the stock market during the remainder of autumn 2011.

Losing hundreds of millions in value during recent, worldwide market retreats has not deterred Slyngstad. The Oil Fund, as Norwegians call it, has historically made money by buying low in the stock market.

This time, NBIM managers will target fewer but larger investments that can be better-researched. Slyngstad told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv that investment of the type that secured 7.5 percent of UK fund manager Blackrock was ideal.

The fund has been criticised by some for not spending enough in Norway and by others for not spending enough on fixed capital. The promise to spend in the stock market is sure to rankle Slyngstad’s critics.

The Oil Fund is unable to buy key US real estate such as ports due to local rules on foreign sovereign-fund ownership but is likely to help top up the European Financial Stability Facility as Europe battles to stabilize national finances.

Norway’s Oil Fund this year topped the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to become the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. Saudi Arabia’s SAMA Foreign Holdings is the third-largest sovereign fund.

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NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration

Two NGOs and six young climate activists have decided to take Norway to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to demand the cancellation of oil permits in the Arctic, Greenpeace announced on Tuesday.

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration
Northern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

It’s the latest turn in a legal tussle between environmental organisations Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth Norway on one side and the Norwegian state on the other.

The organisations are demanding the government cancel 10 oil exploration licenses in the Barents Sea awarded in 2016, arguing it was unconstitutional.

Referring to the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the organisations claim that the oil licenses violated article 112 of Norway’s constitution, guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy environment.”

The six activists, alongside Greenpeace Nordic and Young Friends of the Earth Norway, hope that the European Court of Human Rights will hear their case and find that Norway’s oil expansion is in breach of human rights,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

In December, Norway’s Supreme Court rejected the claim brought by the organisations, their third successive legal defeat.

READ MORE: Norway sees oil in its future despite IEA’s warnings 

While most of the judges on the court agreed that article 112 could be invoked if the state failed to meet its climate and environmental obligations– they did not think it was applicable in this case.

The court also held that the granting of oil permits was not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, in part because they did not represent “a real and immediate risk” to life and physical integrity.

“The young activists and the environmental organisations argue that this judgment was flawed, as it discounted the significance of their environmental constitutional rights and did not take into account an accurate assessment of the consequences of climate change for the coming generations,” Greenpeace said.

On Friday, the Norwegian government unveiled a white paper on the country’s energy future, which still includes oil exploration despite a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA recently warned that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Norwegian case is an example of a global trend in which climate activists are increasingly turning to courts to pursue their agenda.