From Global Witness:
March 24, 2014
The UK company Tullow Oil today became the world’s first extractive firm to publish details of its revenue payments to governments broken down by each project the company operates worldwide. The disclosures, released today in Tullow’s annual report, show the taxes, royalties, licence fees and other public revenues generated by the company’s operations across 21 countries – 14 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa – for the years 2012 and 2013.
Tullow’s voluntary disclosures are being released in advance of a new EU law, due to come into force in the UK in 2015, that will require EU oil, mining and logging companies to publish their payments to governments on a project-by-project basis. These detailed disclosures will enable citizens in economically poor but resource-rich regions to monitor public revenues worth hundreds of billions of dollars and hold governments to account for how the money is used.
The big news that came out of Obama’s recent trip to Africa was the announcement of his “Power Africa” initiative. The initiative has been praised and criticized, but I’ll just note the last few paragraphs of the White House Fact Sheet that discuss transparency — almost as an afterthought:
Transparent Natural Resource Management
The recent discoveries of oil and gas in sub-Saharan Africa will play a critical role in defining the region’s prospects for economic growth and stability, as well as contributing to broader near-term global energy security. Yet existing infrastructure in the region is inadequate to ensure that both on- and off-shore resources provide on-shore benefits and can be accessed to meet the region’s electricity generation needs.
Although many countries have legal and regulatory structures in place governing the use of natural resources, these are often inadequate. They fail to comply with international standards of good governance, or do not provide for the transparent and responsible financial management of these resources.
Power Africa will work in collaboration with partner countries to ensure the path forward on oil and gas development maximizes the benefits to the people of Africa, while also ensuring that development proceeds in a timely, financially sound, inclusive, transparent and environmentally sustainable manner.
If you’re a reporter, student or activist looking for sources of information on the oil industry or wondering how you can work with data available from the World Bank and other organizations, there’s a new handbook out that you will certainly appreciate. It’s called, Exploring Oil Data, A Reporter’s Handbook, and you can download it from the Open Oil website. As someone who spends a lot of time sifting through (and trying to get my head around) data and searching dozens of websites for information that no oil companies willingly share, I was excited to find so many sources gathered together in one location. I was also thrilled to see my blog here at Pipe(line) Dreams listed as one of the “Top Ten Blogs”.
News from the Task Force on Financial Integrity & Economic Development:
Last week, the World Bank unveiled a major initiative to make their funding more transparent. Through the new World Bank Finances portal, vast amounts of information about the inner workings of the Bank’s finances are now made easily accessible. This includes information about specific funds that members are supporting, and the disbursement and repayment status of thousands of projects around the world.