NORWAY - The NOK 1091bn (e134.4bn) government petroleum fund has pulled NOK 337m (e42.8m) from US chemicals firm Kerr-McGee Corporation after an ethical probe by the fund's advisory council.
“The decision to exclude the company is based on a recommendation from the advisory council on ethics for the government petroleum fund,” said finance minister Per-Kristian Foss.
The issue was put on the table in December last year after the exile government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and the Western Sahara Support Committee requested the Ministry of Finance exclude Kerr-McGee from the fund’s investments because of the company’s exploration of the continental shelf offshore Western Sahara.
The ministry said the company signed an agreement with the state owned Moroccan oil company ONAREP over an oil exploration deal which the council found would most likely enable Morocco to “exploit petroleum resources in the area”.
This was regarded by the council as “a particularly serious violation of fundamental ethical norms” because it could contribute to undermining the UN peace process in Morocco.
The company maintains its activity is not in violation of international law.
According to new ethical guidelines for the fund from November 2004, the fund should not invest in companies that produce weapons that “may violate fundamental humanitarian principles”, the ministry said.
On the back of the council’s findings on Kerr-McGee, the Ministry has asked the council to investigate its investment in Total to find out whether it is in violation of the guidelines because of the company’s activity in Burma. The council is also assessing issues such as cluster weapons.
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