KUWAIT CITY, Nov 23: Last week Norway’s sovereign wealth funds unveiled its plans to sell all its investments in oil and gas, which represent about 6 percent of its wealth portfolio of $1 trillion, the largest of all global funds.
This is upon the recommendation of the state’s Norwegian oil company recommendation, the biggest oil and gas producer in Europe that is about 3.7 million barrels of equivalent oil and gas.
Currently the wealth fund owns stocks in major international oil companies such as, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, and Total. The share prices fell because of the announcement made by Norway.
Certainly, this is very alarming for all oil producing countries, and the ones that dependent for more than 90 percent of revenues from oil or gas. As the case is with us here in Kuwait with big investments of wealth funds in oil stocks which are over $500 billion in various markets, stocks, currencies, real estate, in almost all developed industrial countries. Kuwait also owns big shares in BP, and we were the biggest. Or maybe still are.
Here is the challenge as how we view oil and gas markets in the long term, knowing that the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) owns through its affiliated company (KUFPEC) that explores, invests in crude oil outside Kuwait, and still investing heavily to achieve more than 100,000 barrels per day of foreign oils. Are we going to review its status to keep it running or privatize it before it’s too late or is it sustainable with the oil price range of $50 a barrel? Or is its investment in Canadian shale oil.
Such questions need to be addressed with higher petroleum authorities locally as to whether to diversify from oil as we already have too many exposures internally and no need for keeping our oil investments in stock market or directly through direct acquisitions and joint overseas investments.
The Norwegian decision is not something easy to ignore and it had its effect on the markets. Will other national oil companies taking similar actions or reviewing their positions, with uncertainties surrounding oil and gas, perhaps the Saudi Aramco privatization or selling 5 percent of its stake, is a step in the right direction.
Certainly, we in Kuwait have enough exposures to oil and gas investments; perhaps we should follow the path of Norway, since they copied our experience in creating the first state wealth fund.
By Kamel Al-Harami – Independent Oil Analyst