Finance: Insurance firm investigates 'ethical' oil investment

Ecclesiastical Insurance is conducting a poll to establish whether policy-holders would condone oil stocks being added to its ethical investment fund.

Customers are being sent a 'non-biased summary' of the positive and negative aspects of the international fuel industry, with an attached questionnaire asking for their attitudes to investing in oil.

Ecclesiastical provides capital for the Allchurches Amity Fund, a socially responsible investment fund that distributes grants to dioceses, parishes and religious charities in the UK.

Ketan Patel, socially responsible investment analyst for Allchurches, said: "There are several funds that allow its policy-holders to choose the ethical standards they wish to adhere to. We wanted to present the issue to investors and find out what they thought. This questionnaire is about engaging people in the debate."

Patel's report said oil companies had shaken off their "patchy environmental record" and that they now provide education, healthcare and infrastructure services to areas in which reserves are located. The analysis also pointed out that everyday items, such as plastics, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, are all derived from oil.

"Not being able to invest in oil stock really is a constraint,"he said.

"We rely on this one substance so much that it is surely better that we invest and have a platform for advising oil companies how to act, rather than being outside the area completely."

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