Oil and gas firms pinned on transparency

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Leading oil and gas companies do not report sufficiently about their activities in host countries, particularly on payments made to governments for resource extraction rights, leaving the door open to corruption, said Transparency International (TI) in a new report.

The 2008 Report on Revenue Transparency of Oil and Gas Companies, published on 28 April, evaluated 42 leading oil and gas firms operating in 21 countries based on publicly-available reports.

“The tragic paradox, that many resource-rich countries remain poor, stems from a lack of data on oil and gas revenues and how they are managed. Companies must do more to increase transparency,” said Huguette Labelle, the chair of TI.

Foggy data has also frequently been singled out as a cause of uncertainties about future oil availability, with companies often blamed for inflating reserves. In April, the European Commission launched a public consultation on whether changes should be made to the management of emergency oil stock by EU member states (EURACTIV 23/04/08).

“When companies and governments are fully transparent, citizens, journalists, civil society, researchers and investigators can track revenue flows, holding public officials to account and discouraging corruption,” TI said. 

Companies were rated according to their reporting standards in three categories: high, middle and low. High performers typically disclose payments systematically on a country-by-country basis or have payments, operations and anti-corruption programmes that go beyond regulatory requirements. Low performers typically disclose information only by georgraphical segments and “provide almost no additional information relevant to revenue transparency”. 

Among them are the following state-controlled and international oil companies:

  • High: Shell, StatoilHydro, Petrobras.
  • Middle: BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Eni, Gazprom, Repsol, Sonatrach, Total.
  • Low: China National Petroleum Corportation, Exxon-Mobil, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Lukoil, Petronas, Petroleos de Venezuela, Saudi Aramco.

According to TI, the question of transparency has never been more critical as oil prices reach record highs and industry revenues in OPEC countries alone are expected to reach nearly US$1 trillion in 2008.

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