Norway can live off investments from its oil fund for decades, centuries, possibly forever.
The Government Pension Fund – Global (Norwegian: Statens pensjonsfond – Utland, SPU) is a fund into which the surplus wealth produced by Norwegian petroleum income is deposited. The fund changed name in January 2006 from its previous name, The Petroleum Fund of Norway. The fund is commonly referred to as The Oil Fund (Norwegian: Oljefondet).
As of the valuation in June 2011, it was the largest pension fund in the world, although it is not actually a pension fund as it derives its financial backing from oil profits and not pension contributions. As of December 31st 2013 its total value is NOK 5.110 trillion ($853.9 billion), holding one percent of global equity markets. With 1.78 percent of European stocks, it is said to be the largest stock owner in Europe.
The purpose of the petroleum fund is to invest parts of the large surplus generated by the Norwegian petroleum sector, generated mainly from taxes of companies, but also payment for license to explore as well as the State’s Direct Financial Interest and dividends from partly state-owned Statoil. Current revenue from the petroleum sector is estimated to be at its peak period and to decline over the next decades. The Petroleum Fund was established in 1990 after a decision by the country’s legislature to counter the effects of the forthcoming decline in income and to smooth out the disruptive effects of highly fluctuating oil prices.