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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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: 12,500 concessions, 2,000 companies, 41 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 »

Category: Blogs, Latin America, Uncategorized · Tags:

‘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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Launched: OpenOil repository

OpenOil launches repository: 385 oil contracts from 54 countries – one click away

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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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A tale of two giants: SOFAZ, SOCAR and the EITI in Azerbaijan

Some time ago I wrote about my initial bewilderment at the Azerbaijani government’s touting of its EITI record, given a personal experience of the country very much at odds with everything that the EITI stands for. Of course, the debate will always come back to the troubles of a broadly successful global mechanism overburdened with high more »

Category: Azerbaijan, Blogs, BP, CIS, EITI, Transparency, Uncategorized · Tags:

The transparency lobby and the investor community: in it together.

Campaigns for the global right of access to data tend to appeal to disempowered citizens of producing nations and local journalists, with the goal of achieving a more even playing field for such marginalised groups who are missing out on the spoils of natural resource wealth. Now bear with me here, as this won’t sound 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 »

Category: Africa, Blogs, OpenOil blogs, Uganda, Uncategorized · Tags:

The everyday face of Azerbaijan’s “rentier state”

There is endless theorising around the ‘resource curse’ from a birds-eye perspective, from creeping inflation rates to weak institutions and grand corruption. But on the ground in an oil-dominated society like Azerbaijan the phenomenon of ‘rent-seeking’ can lead also to a deeply embedded rentier culture visible on the level of everyday interactions.

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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FARC’s new Big Oil strategy in Colombia

Two events have propelled Colombia into the pages of international newspapers in recent weeks. The second was last month’s hosting of the Summit of the America’s, held in the sun-drenched port of Cartagena – despite walk-outs and spats over the Falklands, the event was widely touted as celebrating Colombia’s miraculous “comeback” from a mal-functioning narco-state more »

Category: Blogs, Colombia, Latin America, Uncategorized · Tags:

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 »

‘Cite du Petrole’: A Rare Snapshot of Big Oil’s Glory Days

The glossy “corporate social responsibility” pages of an oil major’s website are a heroic but stilted effort to resist the barrage of hostile public opinion towards ‘big oil’ (boo ,hiss), an industry which has become a byword for underhand dealings, pilfering and dishonesty.  However it has taken the discovery of little-known documentary Cite du Petrole to remind more »

Category: Azerbaijan, Blogs, CIS, Companies, Uncategorized · Tags:

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 »

Category: Africa, Blogs, Niger, Uncategorized · Tags:

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 »

Category: Blogs, Middle East, Syria, Uncategorized · Tags:

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 »

Category: Blogs, Transparency, Uncategorized · Tags:

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 »

Category: Blogs, EITI, Transparency, Uncategorized · Tags:

Colombia, KRG, Peru: so where are those “published” Oil Contracts?

There is an ever increasing level of interest in the debate around contract transparency in the global extractives industries, and a growing minority of jurisdictions which have agreed to publish contracts openly. However winning the argument is only the first chapter in the story as I discovered recently looking at Colombia, Peru and Iraqi Kudistan. more »

Be Careful What You Wish For: Nascent Petro-states in Colombia and Ghana

We’re used to thinking of Resource Curse as what happens when oil is discovered and pumped in poor countries with few other economic options and systems of governance that are, at best, shaky. So what to make of Colombia’s impending oil boom – nudging a million barrels of oil a day and rising? Will the 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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Never mind the ‘social’, let’s see some genuine ‘corporate responsibility’

The swipe  at fiscally agile multinationals which gives this post its title comes from Richard Murphy at a recent event held in Brussels for NGOs, MEPs and other stakeholders to discuss the draft transparency directive issued by the European Commission.  The new directive picks up the political momentum created by the US Dodd-Franks legislation passed more »

Chile’s Copper Law & the ‘Miracle of Chile’: A justifiable relic of the country’s chequered past?

Tall, thin, copper-rich Chile can often appear an anomaly in South America. Rather than picturesque Andean highlands, kaleidoscopic indigenous groupings, ponchos and pan-pipes that draw shoals of Gap Year students from across the world, it brings to mind images of a glistening economic success story, gleaming skyscrapers in Santiago and a haven of stability among more »

Is the EITI helping or hurting Azerbaijan’s civil society?

Questions over the efficacy of international transparency mechanisms crop up in the most unexpected places – no really! In this case in an almost unbearably smoky bar in Berlin two weeks ago.  Having recently moved to the city I was intrigued to learn that an annual gathering of Azerbaijani civil society activists was taking place on more »

Category: Azerbaijan, CIS, EITI, OpenOil blogs, Uncategorized · Tags:

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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small publishing pic


We have produced a number of books, including oil almanacs to 15 countries, and an oil data guide.

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Understanding oil contracts booksprint

In late October 2012, OpenOil gathered a group of world class oil experts and professionals to jointly write a book which explains how to read the contracts which govern the industry. You can download the book for free, here.

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Wiki interactive map screenshot


  Here at OpenOil we have developed a series of country-level natural resource reference guides. Find out more here

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A couple of oil visualisations using Hans Rosling's Gapminder

Use of Gapminder Motion Charts for oil topics: Big OPEC Reserves Oil and the Human Development Index

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