Greenpeace out in force in Monaco to highlight DRC oil risks

Environmental activists were out in force at the Rendez-Vous de Septembre (RVS) in Monte Carlo, to demand insurance and reinsurance companies refuse to cover a controversial set of oil right auctions in Africa.

Protestors were outside a number of the hotels in Monaco used by the delegates at the annual reinsurance event following the publication of a report by Greenpeace Africa and its partners last weekend, analysing the specific commitments of insurance and reinsurance companies concerning the oil auction in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“We’re in Monte Carlo, one of the richest places in the world, to ensure a group of super-rich and powerful insurance companies don’t add to the hardship of some of the world’s poorest communities in the DRC,” said Irène Wabiwa, international project manager for the Congo Basin at Greenpeace Africa.

“While some companies have given us a commitment not to provide insurance for the disastrous oil auctions in the DRC, others remain silent and carry on business as usual: insuring fossil fuel companies without the consent of indigenous peoples and local communities, while the planet burns from a climate crisis is out of the question.” she continued.

The group’s report said the DRC does not have the national capacity to provide insurance for oil exploration and the high risk it entails. As a result, companies winning exploration rights in DRC oil block tenders will most likely rely on the services of some of the world’s largest insurance and reinsurance companies, mainly concentrated in Europe and North America.

In July 2022, the DRC launched tenders for the exploration rights to 30 oil and gas blocks. 13 of these oil blocks straddle protected areas and national parks, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Virunga National Park, contrary to the promises of the DRC’s Minister of Hydrocarbons, Didier Budimbu.

Greenpeace added importantly, oil tenders in the DRC do not respect the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples and local communities inhabiting the areas for which exploration rights are being auctioned. Greenpeace Africa forestry activists visited eight of the oil blocks. They found that local communities “were all shocked by the prospect of their land being auctioned off to oil companies”, and subsequent visits a year later revealed a rising tide of opposition to the tenders.

“If major insurance companies stopped covering the risk of the fossil fuel industry, oil companies would be hard pressed to find support for their environmentally and people-destroying business plans. This is why we are asking insurance companies to stop supporting the fossil fuel industry,” concluded Wabiwa.