Norway's largest pension fund, KLP, ditches oil sands investments

Adding five companies to its exclusion list, Norwegian manager hopes to speed up shift from fossil fuels to renewables.

    The tide has begun to turn against investing in companies with an interest in extraction from oil sands in places like Alberta, Canada [Todd Korol/Reuters]
    The tide has begun to turn against investing in companies with an interest in extraction from oil sands in places like Alberta, Canada [Todd Korol/Reuters]

    Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), the largest pension fund in Norway, will no longer invest in companies deriving their income from oil sands, and recently sold stocks and bonds in such firms worth about $58m, it said on Monday.

    Oil sands have been a focal point of environmental groups' global efforts to stifle energy production from fossil fuels because they take an especially large toll on the environment.

    KLP's decision affects five companies, which are now on its exclusion list: Russia's Tatneft PAO, and Canada's Cenovus Energy, Suncor Energy, Husky Energy and Exxon-controlled Imperial Oil.

    The fund, which manages over $81bn in assets, said its new policy is to exclude companies with more than five percent of their revenue derived from the oil sands business - similar to its rule on coal.

    KLP previously had a 30 percent threshold for oil sands revenues.

    'Sending a strong message'

    The pension fund said it hoped its move would signal to the markets that oil sands should not be part of the current and future energy supply.

    "By going coal and oil sands free, we are sending a strong message on the urgency of shifting from fossil to renewable energy," KLP's Chief Executive Sverre Thornes said in a statement.

    The decision to cut out oil sands was a logical extension of the coal ban, Jeanett Bergan, KLP's head of responsible investment, told the Reuters News Agency.

    "It's hard to treat oil sands differently [from] coal, because of the similar environmental effects in the extraction, and we decided to treat these fossil fuel products equally," Bergan said.

    KLP also avoids investing in companies involved in making tobacco, alcohol and pornography - plus gambling firms and certain weapons makers.

    Socially responsible investing tends to avoid those sectors, in addition to oil and gas firms that exacerbate global warming and contributing to climate change

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies