The Panama Papers, corporate filings and the “bad guy” / “sharp guy” issues

Oil geek question: what do ConocoPhillips, Halliburton and Schlumberger have in common? Well… they all share the fact that they have, or at least at one point had, Panama incorporated subsidiaries. So why is that, if Panama isn’t actually producing any oil, as the U.S. Energy Information Administration states on their website? With the Panama more »

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Aleph Worshops

Berlin, April 26th Workshop Information London, April 29th Workshop Information SIGN UP FORM We invite you to join in on two workshops organized by the OpenOil team where we will invite participants to learn more about open data on the extractive industries and how to search and dig out information from the Aleph search engine. more »

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Using Aleph: 5 tips and tricks to find out about what extractive companies tell their investors

Every week thousands of pages are filed by extractive companies to stock exchanges across the globe, containing valuable information on oil, gas and mining operations worldwide. Through such disclosures, investors, regulators and researchers can update themselves on any listed company’s financial situation, the economics of particular oil or mining projects, newly signed host-government contracts, changes more »

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EITI adopts Open Data policy

OpenOil’s belief that transparency requires open data is steadily becoming an accepted truth. This was confirmed once more last month, when the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) agreed their first ever policy on open data. The EITI brings together governments, extractives corporations, investors and civil society. That makes it one of the most significant places more »

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Location references in petroleum contracts – some observations

It has become a matter of debate how the location of oil, gas and mining projects can or even has to be specified. Given that listed extractives companies in the EU, Canada and the US will soon have to disclose payments to governments on a “project basis”, this is just as much a tricky as more »

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Let’s not make the Paris Agreement the “Elephant in the Room”

In my first post I referred to how the Paris agreement mentions transparency, which in the text is confined to transparency around carbon accounting and the disbursement of the huge financial aid that is an integral part of the agreement. Neither of which relate directly to transparency of the upstream in extractive industries, which is more »

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COP21 & transparency: the page just got a whole lot bigger

What does the climate change deal signed in Paris mean for transparency in extractive industries? In the short term, relatively little. In the medium to long term however it could change everything: which natural resources are subject to transparency, how far public policy will intervene in the market, and whether we moved to a more more »

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Introducing Aleph: everything companies tell investors, in one place

Part I: why collect corporate filings? Can the world understand oil and mining companies as well as their investors do? We think it’s possible, and we’ve been hard at work building a tool to make it so. Our goal is: everything extractives companies tell investors, in one place. The result is Aleph, our new search more »

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Putting open data all together – the Tanzania pilot

For the past year, OpenOil has researched various aspects of open data on extractive industries. First we looked at corporate mapping – creating a network map of BP’s 1,200 subsidiaries across 84 countries with our colleagues at OpenCorporates. Then, with PWYP in Canada, we searched systematically for contracts disclosed by companies, which led to the more »

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Open modeling will help governments, whether they admit it or not

We have seen how public interest models can put the power of analysis into the public domain, help raise the level of understanding around the financial engine of oil and gas projects, and channel advocacy into highly targeted requests for information to produce still more clarity. But where are governments in all this? If public more »

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Public interest models: a powerful tool for the advocacy agenda

Open financial models can clearly put analysis into a genuinely independent public space, and also trigger a rise in public understanding which could enrich the governance debate in many countries. But there is a third function public models can serve: that of advocacy for targeted disclosure of information. The stress here is on “targeted”. A more »

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Public interest modeling is the entry point, not the grand finale, of transparency work

Models are powerful tools. So powerful in fact that the discussion of whether they should be unleashed into the public space has sometimes been accompanied by a discussion of the “dangers” of doing so – reminiscent of the first debates around the idea of transparency itself. General thinking has been that models are a stage more »

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Total’s affiliate list sheds little light on what really matters

Total today announced it has published what looks like a relatively comprehensive list of its affiliate structures around the world. Some 902 affiliates incorporated in 99 jurisdictions and operating in 117 jurisdictions around the world. It is interesting reading, if you are an open data geek. Some company structures definitely seem as though they yield more »

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You don’t know what you’ve got until its modeled

More contract disclosure will not necessarily result in greater understanding of the economic implications of fiscal terms. The terms only become meaningful when their interactions are understood alongside relevant national tax laws and regulations. So to make real sense of the economic implications, the fiscal terms must be considered under varying scenarios of production, price more »

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Salmond and Darling: who has it right on Scotland’s oil?

As everyone has commented, Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling really went at it in the debate last night, and fulminated at each other about North Sea oil, like everything. But who was right about what? Well, to establish neutrality, let’s take one statement by each that was palpably… let’s say balderdash. Darling: “Looking ahead we more »

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Interactive UK Fracking Map

The UK government has awarded 27 licenses for fracking. Find out if you live in one or nearby.

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Putting open data all together – the Tanzania pilot

What open extractives data might look like when it’s all put together.

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Corporate Networks

OpenOil is developing open data systems around corporate relations in the oil, gas and mining industries.

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Of Bad Guys and Sharp Accountants

As I mentioned before, we had no particular reason to seek to map BP in particular. We were simply conducting an experiment into how much could be known about a major multinational from its own public filings. In trying to keep track of oil and mining industries, there are two particular issues that could be more »

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Mexico’s oil reforms: transparency now or never?

A few weeks ago we released the Spanish translation of Oil contracts: how to read and understand them, which we hope will bring some degree of clarity to the subject for our friends in Latin America and elsewhere. The publication is timely, coming just as one of the region’s most important petroleum producers, Mexico, pushes more »


Launched – Welcome to the BP holdings map!

First map of a big oil company’s holdings in an open data space, with 1,180 affiliates in 84 countries.

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namibia concessions

The concession layer: 20,000 concessions, 2,000 companies, 69 countries

Most of the world’s publicly available oil concession data – in one repository

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OpenOil is looking for partners to analyse oil contracts around the world

Are you looking for a way into promoting transparency and public understanding of your country’s oil and gas contracts? At OpenOil we are looking for partners to work with across the world to take the conversation around contracts to the next level by beginning to examine oil contracts country by country, working with model contracts. more »

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Energy Sector Reforms in Mexico: A Catch 22

Whatever changes Mexico’s energy sector will take, they will be radical compared to the status quo. At least this is what one might think, having followed Mexico`s energy reform debate since 2008 and president Nieto’s announcements following his ascent to power in December 2012. The wind of change to Mexico’s heavy crude is blowing. I more »

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‘One level up’ is EITI sweet spot for beneficial ownership

This is post is cross-posted at the EITI blog As there was a lot of talk around beneficial ownership within the new EITI standard, we thought we’d try and model what it could look like. It’s one of those thorny issues. Civil society wants it, corporates often state their belief that it is a heavy more »

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Tanzania files

Working on the edge: tracking mining companies in Tanzania!

At OpenOil we’ve been engaged in the last couple of months in seeing how it is possible to use Big Data techniques to track the corporate web across the world’s oil, gas and mining companies. Part of this has involved seeing if together with our friends we can actually get into company registers in some more »

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4th edition release: 806 contracts from 73 countries.

OpenOil is pleased to announce the 4th edition of the repository, with 83 new contracts.

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Did Margaret Thatcher blow the UK’s oil dividend?

Like many Brits, I suspect, I was reminded by Margaret Thatcher’s death of how ambivalent I felt about her legacy. It would be churlish not to recognise the change in entrepreneurial culture that happened in the 1980s. From where I stand it would be doctrinaire not to see the spread of home ownership as a more »

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Oil boom coming? Don’t tell anyone!

In 2009, a colleague of mine had an idea about how Ghana could innovate using its coming oil wealth. Being pretty well connected, he worked up some research and then flew to Accra for a meeting with the vice-president. He was heard out politely but at the end of his presentation his hosts politely informed more »

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South Sudan is surviving without oil — barely

About a month ago, President Salva Kiir said South Sudan’s oil production would restart in a week. Famous last words, it turns out – not a drop of crude has come through the pipeline since. It’s not that there’s no urgency: at the time of the shut-down in January, the government relied on oil for 98% of more »

Petro-politics in Uganda: get-rich-quick won’t pay

What does an oil sector in its infancy look like from the inside? Our researcher Amrit Naresh is in Kampala, Uganda for three weeks working with Uganda Radio Network to launch a new wiki on Uganda’s oil. This is the first in a series of blogs he’ll post while there. At a pub Monday night more »

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If Dodd-Frank took so long… is US EITI in trouble?

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has finally voted on the implementation of oil and mining transparency rules in the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill, more than a year after the original deadline came and went. Good news, to be sure, since tough financial disclosure rules are better late than never. But the delay more »

Scraping the Barrel… 9 August 2012

Today’s barrel scrapes include: a duplicitous tale of one man against the establishment in post-oligarch Russia; oil majors deepen the Arab/Kurd fault lines in Iraq; and Robin Mills shines a light on the way forward for Indian energy security. More below…

Scraping the Barrel… 6 August 2012

Today’s barrel scrapings include: Nigeria continues its struggle with illegal refineries costing them over $1 billion a month, letters published by the KRG gives us a sneak peek into how they are wooing Big Oil, and what obstacles lay before Israel in exporting the bounty of the East Med natural gas bonanza? See below for more…

North and South Sudan: the biggest game of poker in the world

The facts are simple but brutal: in response to a dispute over pipeline fees, the world’s newest country South Sudan stopped producing oil in February because the only way to take it to market was through the pipeline to the north, through Sudan, the country they had just seceded from. Then there’s the interpretation of more »

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EITI in the US: the invisible empire of oil (Part 3)

Growing up in Louisiana, the fourth-biggest oil producing state in America, I pretty much took the oil industry for granted. It was everywhere, of course. I saw the sprawling refineries, heard about the jobs created and the oil occasionally spilled, but it was so omnipresent that I almost didn’t notice it. Like someone from Paris more »

The story of Niger, or how not to have an oil boom while your people starve

There can’t be many countries who face famine as their GDP rises by 14%. Yet that is the situation in the West African state of Niger, where the World Food Program, the International Red Cross, Oxfam and other humanitarian agencies launched appeals this week to help some 400,000 people now at risk from severe malnutrition. more »

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Syria’s transit future: all pipelines lead to Damascus?

Between the rise of Hafez al-Assad in 1971 and the crisis engulfing his son’s government today, the Syrian energy sector seems to have come full circle. An oil importer in the 1950s and 60s with little production of its own, Syria became a net exporter of oil by the 1980s; it is now a country more »

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So what would an oil contracts database look like?

Imagine a world in which extractive industry contracts were routinely published, from Article 1 definitions to Annexes with long lists of GPS data points of contract areas and everything from production sharing splits to management structures inbetween. Imagine the typical corporate arguments of breach of confidentiality agreements and conflict with commercial interest had been trumped, more »

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EITI in the US: leaning on Dodd-Frank (Part 2)

In a blog post last week I asked why the United States’ implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) should be limited to federal lands, responsible for about 30% of oil and gas production, and not cover private or state-owned areas, where most US oil and gas are produced. Today I look in more more »

Wanted: no-win no-fee lawyers for Somalia

Contract renegotiations are in the news again. The Economist ran a feature recently on restive governments all across Africa imposing windfall taxes and seeking friendlier outcomes from a bunch of oil and mining contracts. And Africa’s growing number of early stage oil producers, like Uganda, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, and maybe even Liberia raise the concern more »

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Iran sanctions risk widening rift between the West and India & China

In the maelstrom of debate around Western oil sanctions on Iran, the impact on the two Asian giants, India and China, has inevitably figured. Commentators have pointed out that Asian markets are likely, in fact, to be the biggest beneficiaries of the EU’s decision this week to impose oil sanctions after July 1 and similar more »

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Iraq’s first EITI report raises as many questions as it answers

Iraq issued its first report under the EITI mechanism just before the New Year and it was circulated last week in English, Arabic and Kurdish. It’s the first formal deliverable in Iraq’s participation in the transparency scheme since it signed up two years ago. Price Waterhouse Cooper reconciled financial reporting from Iraq’s monopoly oil marketing more »

Protected: Equitable Oil from Libya

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

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Why not give Iraqi citizens oil dividends directly?

The Center for Global Development has published a blog today on our paper suggesting a citizen dividend in Iraq. Using the anticipated rise in Iraqi oil production, we propose a dividend that could have dramatic development and poverty reduction effect, helping Iraq towards meeting several of the MDGs, without cutting into current government expenditure levels more »

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Wordmaps for two natural resource management policies

Sometimes it helps to try and picture things – literally. So here are word maps for two natural resource management policies. The first is from Tom Paine‘s Agrarian Justice, published in Paris during the French Revolution. In it, he proposes a rent on land use 0n the grounds that land naturally belongs to everyone. So more »

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Hidden in plain sight: transparency’s bane of information overload

Are many modern financial scandals “hidden in plain sight”, needles in the haystack of information overload? And if so, do we need to revise the model of transparency we have been working with for the last decade? The incomparable Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book “What the Dog Saw” contains a chapter detailing the uncovering of the more »

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The ambassador, the Post & consultant fatigue – how Afghanistan’s oil stays in the ground

Natural resources have a long and proud tradition of conspiracy theories – with the rider of course that dozens of those theories are true. The CIA really did overthrow the government of Mossadegh in Iran in the 1950s after he nationalised the oil industry by using $100,000 to buy rent-a-mobs on the streets of Tehran more »

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GW’s Sudan report: seizing the margin of transparency

About a year ago, Global Witness issued what was essentially a shadow report on Sudanese oil. It said there was no transparency and called on the great and the good to review their involvement with Sudan’s oil sector: the Chinese because they’re the major foreign partner; the Japanese because they import a lot of Sudanese more »

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fossil fuel subs pic

Removing fossil fuel subsidies

We are researching the replacement of fossil fuel subsidies with a flat cash dividend.

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