By David Stenerud
NorWatch has previously reported about the petroleum fund's 35 million NOK large investment in Utkal partner Alcan Inc. The 6th of March Norges Bank publically announced the portfolio of the Petroleum Fund, which showed that the fund has increased this investment significantly.
At the same time Norsk Hydro chose to withdraw from Utkal after years of massive local resistance, the Petroleum Fund tripled their ownership in Alcan Inc.. The fund has now invested 110 million NOK in the Canadian company. In addition the portfolio managers have bought bonds valued at 83 million.
It was the 16th of December last year, on the day one year after three anti-development activists were shot and killed during a demonstration in the village of Maikanach in India, that it was known that Norsk Hydro was backing out from the controversial project.
The two remaining partners still wish to continue the planned bauxite mine and oil refinery in the state of Orissa. According to a deal with Alcans partners Indal and Norsk Hydro, made in a board meeting in Utkal Alumina 16th of January this year, the Canadian company will have a 45 percent ownership in Utkal when Norsk Hydro finally sells out from the bauxite project in a short time.
Paradoxically, Norsk Hydro's home-going makes the Petroleum Funds interest in the project increase almost 30 percent, as Alcan takes over almost one third of Hydro stocks.
PS. In addition to ethical problems the Petroleum Fund is facing in (tilknytning) the Alcan investment, there are also financial impacts: Even in this respect the fund has been less than lucky: Last quarter of 2001, Alcan Inc. lost 357 billion dollars.
Norwatch Newsletter 3-4/02