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Insurance Capacity In Global Energy Markets Leaps To Highest Level This Century

Theoretical insurance capacities in both the upstream and downstream oil and gas insurance markets have increased to the highest levels seen this century. Heavily over-capitalised global (re)insurance markets combined with a glut of new capacity from non-traditional providers - such as pension funds, hedge funds and investment banks - has increased competitive pressures in the energy insurance market to unprecedented levels, according to Willis's annual Energy Market Review.

Total theoretical upstream market capacity now stands at US$5.7 billion and the equivalent downstream total is now at US$4.6 billion, according to the report. Meanwhile, statistics from Lloyd's of London suggest that the overall energy premium pool available to insurers may be reducing for both markets. Given these conditions, Willis expects it may take more than a run of catastrophic losses to provoke any significant capacity withdrawal from the energy sector. In 2013 the energy loss record was no worse than average, noted Willis's report.

On the upstream side, the Willis Energy Loss Database recorded only a handful of losses in excess of US$200 million, while on the downstream side, although there have been three serious incidents in Argentina, the USA and Canada, the loss record continues to improve. At the same time, the report notes that the energy industry itself might be sitting on an uninsured cyber-attack time bomb. While insurance cover is readily available for non-catastrophic cyber-attack losses to data and intellectual property, it can be much more challenging to access cover for a truly catastrophic event involving physical loss or damage or business interruption running into billions of dollars. Certain markets, however, have emerged recently with the appetite and capacity to provide energy companies with at least a degree of cyber-attack insurance cover.

Commenting on energy insurance market conditions, Alistair Rivers, Global Head of Natural Resources at Willis, said, "With no obvious alternative investment opportunities emerging, and with interest rates around the world still low in relative terms, capital providers are likely to maintain their funds in the (re)insurance markets where they are currently deployed - at least for the short term. Energy market capacity is therefore likely to continue to be available, even if the sector falls into unprofitability."

He continued, "The difficulty with predicting how market conditions will turn out in the next few years is that this is the first time we have seen capital deployed in the insurance markets that is unlikely to be put off by short term underwriting unprofitability. In previous market eras, we have always found that a major catastrophe or series of losses -- for example, Piper Alpha, 9/11 and the 2005 Gulf of Mexico hurricanes -- has led to a withdrawal of capacity and harder market conditions. But now we think it will take more than a headline-grabbing loss to precipitate a withdrawal. Capital providers would have to find an alternative haven for their money if they are to withdraw from the insurance arena."

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ONLY 1 Position Remains On Maritime Labour Convention 2006 Round Table Business Forum

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is an International Labour Organization convention established in 2006 as the Fourth pillar of international maritime law and embodies "all up-to-date standards of existing international maritime labour Conventions and Recommendations, as well as the fundamental principles to be found in other international labour Conventions".

Title 4 of the MLC covers Health Protection, Medical Care, Welfare and Social Security Protection.

Medical care on board ship and ashore: Seafarers should be covered for and have access to medical care while on board; in principle at no cost and of a quality comparable to the standards of health care on shore. Countries through which territory a ship is passing should guarantee treatment on shore in serious cases.

Shipowners' liability: Seafarers should be protected from the financial effects of "sickness, injury or death occurring in connection with their employment". This includes at least 16 weeks of payment of wages after start of sickness.

Health and safety protection and accident prevention: A safe and hygienic environment should be provided to seafarers both during working and resting hours and measures should be taken to take reasonable safety measures.

Access to shore-based welfare facilities: Port states should provide "welfare, cultural, recreational and information facilities and services" and to provide easy access to these services. The access to these facilities should be open to all seafarers irrespective of race, sex, religion or political opinion.

Take Your Seat At The Round Table - APPLY HERE.

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Subsea Cables Identified As Major Insurance Risk For The Offshore Wind Industry

DNV GL, announced the launch of its guideline "Subsea power cables in shallow water renewable energy applications" (DNV-RP-J301), which provides a comprehensive review of subsea power cable practice and advice for managing the risk commonly associated with the cables.

The recommended practice, which is free to download from www.dnvgl.com/rules-standards/default.aspx#2, is the most comprehensive of its type in the industry. Technical guideline covers entire lifecycle of subsea power cables, from concept development to decommissioning, and is a comprehensive resource of project guidance.

Many existing offshore wind farms have faced subsea power cable problems caused by underestimation of complexities and interrelationships Guideline will become essential tool for stakeholders involved in renewable energy projects, improving safety and lowering costs for the wind industry Problems with subsea cables have affected many offshore wind farms and damage to cables has been identified as a major insurance risk for the offshore wind industry.

Cable related problems are costly and most often arise from inadequate risk identification, lack of planning, sub-standard design and deficiencies in how procedures are applied. To date, cabling failures have cost millions of euros in delays and numerous legal disputes.

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Willis North America Announces 19th Annual Construction Risk Management Conference

Willis North America, a unit of Willis Group Holdings (NYSE: WSH), the global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker, announced today the 19th Annual Willis Construction Risk Management Conference, September 11-12, in New Orleans, LA. Willis’ annual Construction Risk Management Conference is designed to address a range of pressing issues facing the construction industry today.

Featuring both educational and networking opportunities, this conference combines the expertise of Willis’ construction clients and leading specialists from the Willis construction team including surety, safety, and claims specialists. Attendance for this event includes roughly 400 individuals representing global, national and regional contractors, developers, facility owners and designers, as well as insurance carriers and leading industry experts from The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and FMI, a leading financial and management consultant.

Commenting on the event, Rick Hawkinberry, CEO, National Construction Practice, Willis North America, said, “For this year’s program we created an agenda featuring hot topics that focus on key issues impacting construction firms today including addressing contractual risk challenges and the various legislative and judicial trends compounding those challenges, how to best use available data to quantify risk and impact the underwriting process, as well as proven approaches to improve worksite safety. In addition, there is an entire track dedicated to claims-related issues and several discussions where our clients share their cutting edge risk management techniques and unique project approaches.”

“Given the rapidly evolving landscape of construction risk management, we look forward to this opportunity each year to bring together our clients, key business partners and Willis specialists to share, learn and network. Willis is committed to the construction industry and we are proud to offer this unique industry event to deliver innovative risk management solutions and insights,” Hawkinberry added.

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African, European And Asian Cities Dominate The Top 10 Most Expensive Locations For Expatriates

Although more European cities dominate the world’s top costliest locations for expatriates, according to Mercer’s latest Cost of Living Survey, several cities in Asia are among the top 10 while Luanda holds the number one position. Mercer's 2013 Cost of Living Survey is one of the world’s most comprehensive, and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.

New York is used as the base city, and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. The difference in cost for these items can be dramatic.

For example the cost of a cup of coffee in Managua, Nicaragua is $1.54 compared to $8.29 in Moscow; a fast food hamburger meal is $3.62 in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, versus $13.49 in Caracas, and a cinema ticket is $5.91 in Johannesburg compared to $20.10 in London. These are but a few examples of the thousands of comparisons to be found in Mercer’s full report that aid employers in setting cost of living and other expatriate allowances. Mercer produces individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports for each city surveyed.

The cost of expatriate housing is typically the biggest expense for employers, and it plays an important part in determining the rankings. The Russian capital of Moscow follows Luanda as the second most expensive city because of high costs for rental accommodation and imported goods and services commonly purchased by expatriates commanding a premium. A luxury two bedroom unfurnished apartment rental for one month in Moscow is $4,600 a month or 14 times as much than Karachi. Rounding out the top five most expensive cities for expatriate living, which also have pricey rental accommodations, are Tokyo, the Chad city Ndjamena, and Singapore.

“Recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, which resulted in currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices have impacted these cities making them expensive,” said Barb Marder, Senior Partner and Mercer’s Global Mobility Practice Leader. “Despite being one of Africa’s major oil producers, Angola is a relatively poor country yet expensive for expatriates since imported goods can be costly. In addition, finding secure living accommodations that meet the standards of expatriates can be challenging and quite costly." The other cities appearing in Mercer’s list of top 10 costliest cities for expatriates are Hong Kong, Geneva, Bern and Zurich.

According to Ms. Marder, “A recent Mercer global mobility survey shows that all different types of international assignments are on the rise. Given the increasing numbers of business travelers, global ‘commuters’ and longer-term expatriates, companies are keeping a close eye on the cost of living for international assignees in different cities around the world. Organizations need to evaluate the impact of currency fluctuations, inflation, and political instability when sending employees on overseas assignments while ensuring they can facilitate the moves they need to drive the business results by offering fair and competitive compensation packages.” Currency fluctuations and the impact of inflation on goods and services have affected the cost of expatriate programs as well as the city rankings.

“Overall, the cost of living in cities across parts of Europe has gone up in the ranking as a result of the slight strengthening of local currencies against the US dollar, whereas in Asia about half of the cities went down in the ranking – Japan especially – due to local currencies’ weakening against the US dollar,” said Nathalie Constantin-Métral, Principal at Mercer with responsibility for compiling the survey ranking.

Four European cities are among the top 10 most expensive despite moderate price increases in most European countries. Switzerland remains one of the costliest locations for expatriates despite decreasing or stable accommodation costs and a robust Swiss franc. Some African cities rank high in Mercer’s 2013 survey, reflecting high living costs for expatriate employees. In the Americas, cities in South America are the most expensive locations for expatriates.

Some cities dropped in the ranking as a result of local currencies weakening against the US dollar such as Brazilian cities, while others jumped as a result of high inflation on goods and services and rentals. New York, the base city for Mercer’s Cost of Living ranking, is the most expensive city in the United States.

“Overall, US cities either remained stable in the ranking or have slightly decreased due to the movement of the US dollar against the majority of currencies worldwide,” explained Ms. Constantin-Métral. ”Yet several cities, including New York, moved up in the ranking due to a rise in the rental accommodation market.” Canadian cities generally moved down in the ranking this year as a result of a slight decrease of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar, and because the prices of goods and services increased at a lower pace than in New York.

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iPMI Magazine Industry News

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