Stat of the month - Vikings' black gold

£150bn - The size of Norway's state pension fund.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

It is the largest pension fund in the world, and a tidy sum to say the least - enough to get you the mother of all Norse Saga holidays. So how did a little country like Norway, with a population of only 4.6 million, get to be sitting on a nest-egg that will soon equal the country's GDP?

It's all about oil - more specifically, what they've done with the revenue from the black stuff. Unlike Britain, which blew most of its North Sea oil income like an impetuous teen shedding pocket money on phone credit and fags, Norway seems to have done the sensible thing: invested its stash for a rainy day. There's more where it came from, too. Norway is the world's third-largest oil producer, pumping a whopping 3.2 million barrels-worth out of the North Sea per day, and may even have the same amount, currently untapped, under the Barents Sea. By 2010, this nice little earner is predicted to top £250 billion. Still, you can imagine the reaction here if Gordon Brown were setting aside such sums: how about improving the roads, the railways, the schools, the hospitals ...?

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