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Norway’s Giant Oil Fund Excludes Duke Energy on Environment Concerns

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, Norway’s US$870-billion oil fund, said that it excludes, effective Wednesday, Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK) and three subsidiaries from its investment universe on the grounds that the companies have caused severe environmental damage.

Central bank Norges Bank, which oversees the Government Pension Fund Global, said that along with Duke Energy Corp, its wholly-owned subsidiaries Duke Energy Carolinas LLC, Duke Energy Progress LLC, and Progress Energy Inc have all been excluded.

The fund’s Council on Ethics had recommended the exclusion of the companies in April of this year “due to the unacceptable risk of these companies being responsible for severe environmental damage”.

The companies have repeatedly discharged environmentally harmful substances from a large number of ash basins at coal-fired power plants in North Carolina. Several court rulings have ordered the companies to remove or seal these ash basins, the Council on Ethics had said in the recommendation, adding that the planned measures would not be fully implemented for another 10-15 years, which poses a considerable risk.

The Norwegian fund has a lengthy list of companies it has excluded from its investments or firms placed on an observation list, because they either produce environmentally and health-damaging goods and cause environment risks or violate human rights or ethics norms.

As of the end of 2015, the fund held a 0.62-percent stake of Duke Energy Corp., worth US$304 million.

The fund always exits investments before it announces exclusions, Norges Bank spokesman Runar Malkenes told Bloomberg.

Earlier this year, the Norwegian fund was planning to use its prowess to force supergiants Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) to report more about the effects of climate change on business, both in terms of risk and opportunity. Back then, the fund said it would endorse proposals meant to compel Chevron and Exxon Mobil to report more on risks that climate change policies have on their business.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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