Climate activist attack on Bermuda’s Everen
A half-century-old Bermuda insurer, set up in the 1970s to finance the risks of the world’s oil companies, today faces criticism from climate activists for its backing of the most controversial new oilfields in the North Sea.
But the company has told The Royal Gazette that counter to claims that it is out of step with the march towards a new environmental consciousness, it is in fact a part of the effort to transition to a more sustainable future.
Everen, a mutual insurance company which just this June completed a name rebranding from Oil Insurance Ltd (Oil), has transitioned over the years into an insurer for the broader energy industry, with membership that includes some of the world’s largest energy companies.
Scottish environmental groups oppose drilling for oil at the Rosebank and Cambo fields off the coast of Shetland, claiming they would damage the environment and ruin Britain’s ability to meet emission reduction targets, including those just set last year.
They have amplified their message by capturing the attention of The Ferret, the award-winning investigative journalism platform from Scotland.
They have just published an article, “Revealed: The Bermuda-based firm crucial to new North Sea oil”, and it has been widely republished by other news journals, including The Herald.
The article says that commercial insurers are increasingly distancing themselves from new oil and gas projects.
It states: “But while many major insurers begin to take a harder line on oil and gas, Everen will underwrite new energy projects regardless of which ‘end of the energy spectrum’ they come from.“
It continues: “Experts on climate finance have warned that Everen could undermine efforts by commercial insurers to break their ties to fossil fuels and slow down the transition to clean energy.
"They claimed that Everen and other mutual insurers reduce transparency and accountability and could enable oil and gas projects such as Cambo and Rosebank to go ahead, where they may otherwise have been shunned by traditional insurers.“
But last night, Everen made it clear where they stood, telling us: “Fifty years ago, when Everen was established, it was built as a membership only mutual by traditional energy companies.
“Over time, the membership has expanded to include energy industries spanning from oil and gas to the generation and distribution of electricity, inclusive of renewable sources.
“Our members are heavily engaged in energy transition and they have invested billions of dollars into renewable energy, including biofuels, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and other new energy technologies.
“Everen has increased its portfolio to insure all of these new technologies, along with traditional energy, which is still a necessity and contributes much of the capital required to build a sustainable lower carbon future.”
Bertil Olsson, CEO of Everen, told us: “The transition into renewable energy requires substantial resources and will be a phased approach over time.
“Our members are some of the largest energy companies in the world and have many years of global experience successfully managing world-scale energy infrastructure projects.
“The energy transition will not happen overnight, and Everen will continue to support our members with that transition.”
The company also said: “Our recent rebrand was completed to represent our current membership more accurately as it continues to evolve.
“We are proud that this new brand embodies our 50-year legacy as a responsible employer and mutual insurer in Bermuda, as well as our members who have the vital role of providing energy for the world now and into the future.”