Press Release

#HowBigisBP? Welcome to the BP holdings map: 1,180 affiliates in 84 countries

BERLIN, September 4th – OpenOil, a Berlin-based consultancy, published on Thursday the first comprehensive map of a big oil company’s holdings around the world in an open data space. Using the OpenCorporates system of uniquely identifying legal entities, OpenOil pulled over filings made by the BP Plc Group to map 1,180 affiliate structures in 84 identified jurisdictions in layers of ownership going 12 deep.

The platform, developed by open source developer iilab, also contains headline financials for several years separately filed by the BP Plc group for 150 of the affiliate structures. All data and visualisations are freely available under Creative Commons licenses.

“We wanted to see if it was possible to use public domain data to build systematic maps of how big business does business,” said OpenOil founder Johnny West. “We hope this approach will be useful to anyone who needs to understand more about the way large companies work.”

Using the map, analysts can quickly understand BP’s corporate structures as they relate to particular countries, whether they are in the upstream like Iraq, Indonesia, end-consumer countries like the United Kingdom and Germany, or tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. BP’s own disclosures to the public domain are the exclusive and authoritative source.

A video, user manual and essay (“Mapping BP”) explain more about the methodology of the project, which was funded by theShuttleworth Foundation. The same dataset can be viewed on different platforms, including a queryable back-end on neo4j,Google Fusion, and on OpenCorporates.

The equity map uses a “click to check” principle – every fact represented visually in the corporate map is linked to the source document that underpins it. In this way, the map and its data set will help researchers like journalists, revenue authorities, business analysts, activists, and others in their attempts to understand global extractive industries.

“Corporations such as BP are highly complex structures, with thousands of legal entities around the globe,” said OpenCorporates co-founder & CEO Chris Taggart. “OpenOil and OpenCorporates have shown it is possible to piece together this information, using filings that corporations are obliged to file by law.

However, that we should have to do this, rather than be able to download open data from BP’s website, shows how far we are from true corporate transparency – which disadvantages society, the environment, the developing world, and investors.”

“OpenOil has taken openly available data and added significant value by providing context and, as a result, meaning. We believe this will become an important decision-making tool,” said Karien Bezuidenhout, Director of the Shuttleworth Foundation.

OpenOil and its partners are choosing a next tranche of extractive companies to run similar maps on, and a sister project has explored open data mapping of companies in Nigeria’s oil industry. The project is part of a broader effort to maximise the public value of growing disclosure requirements and norms in the EU, USA, Canada and elsewhere as well as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

For details, or more information about the BP map, contact Anton Rühling at anton dot ruehling at openoil dot net or on +49 1578 9324961. There will be a Twitter chat on (#HowBigisBP) on Thursday 11th September, 3pm UK/ 4pm Berlin / 10 am EST Topic: “How can Open Data transform Big Oil – lessons from mapping BP”

OpenOil  publishes open data on the world’s extractive industries. Its book How to Read and Understand Oil Contracts is at over 100,000 downloads and it has published 20 country reference guides in five languages.

OpenCorporates is the world’s largest open database of companies with data on over 70 million companies in 80 jurisdictions. OpenCorporates is revolutionising access and reusability of company data, giving access to the data with an open licence.

iiLab is a software developer that empowers the social economy with innovation and technology. 

Shuttleworth Foundation  invests in social innovators who are open at heart, have a fresh perspective on addressing challenges and have a very clear idea of their role in bringing about positive change.


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