By Tsvetana Paraskova
The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund—Norway’s US$1-trillion fund that has amassed its wealth from oil. The country earned US$84 billion in Q1 in the “strongest quarter ever”, boosted by technology and oil and gas stocks.
The Government Pension Fund Global, as the so-called ‘oil fund’ is officially known, said in its Q1 quarterly report on Friday that it returned 9.1 percent, or US$84.16 billion (738 billion Norwegian crowns), in the first quarter of 2019.
In equity investments, which accounted for 69.2 percent of the fund at the end of Q1, technology stocks were the top performers with a 17.6-percent return, followed by oil and gas and industrials, which both returned 14.1 percent.
“The strong performance by oil and gas stocks was boosted by higher oil prices, due partly to the prospect of production cuts from OPEC and Russia and decreased output in Venezuela due to political unrest,” the fund’s report reads.
“This is the fund’s best quarterly return measured in kroner ever. As a major equity investor we must be prepared for large fluctuations in the fund’s market value in line with developments in global stock markets,” said Yngve Slyngstad, CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management.
The fund was created three decades ago to safeguard and manage Norway’s oil wealth for future generations — made headlines earlier this year, when the government proposed that the fund divest from oil and gas exploration companies.
The move by the Norwegian government and the fund comes at a time when investors are increasingly pressing major oil companies to start taking climate change seriously and to prepare their business portfolios for a world of peak oil demand, whenever that may come.
Norway, however, claims that its decision is motivated by financial reasons, with the country aiming to cut exposure to the oil price risk. More importantly, the fund will not be divesting from any of the Big Oil firms.