This is part 1 of our series on how to use Aleph, the OpenOil search engine for Extractive Industries Corporate Filings. In the following you can learn about finding project economics data, exemplified on the Vaca Muerta formation in Argentina.
The Vaca Muerta formation – background and context
Argentina holds the second largest shale gas reserves in the world. The Vaca Muerta formation, in the Neuquén Basin, is one of its main producing areas and its largest play of dry, wet, and associated shale gas resources.
In July 2013, the Argentine energy company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales and Chevron announced a partnership for drilling in one of the five development blocks in Vaca Muerta, which included the Loma La Lata Norte and Loma Campana fields. At that time, the Loma Campana field was already producing more than 10,000 barrels of oil-equivalent per day. In 2014, the project was extended for 35 years. With an unusually high reliance on oil and natural gas, and the weight of years of economic mismanagement, this agreement doubtlessly plays a major role in the Argentinian economy.
At the same time, the project has raised several inquiries about its environmental viability, the lax extension of the concession, its violation of Mapuche territory and tax exemptions that reduce the percentage of revenues for the government. Adding to this, a ruling from 2014 has made impossible to request information about the secret clauses of this agreement, which could help clarify who is profiting out of this project.
Yet, there has been a series of orders for disclosure from various Argentinian courts to YPF, especially after November 2015, when the Argentinian’s highest court (finally) found that operations in this field were of public interest. To all orders, YPF has appealed, claiming this would affect ‘its interests and those of its shareholders’.
How public domain information can help out
But we know there is enough information in the public space to help clarify many of these issues, like who profits from this project and to which extent. Following this philosophy, we have recently established a collaboration for developing a model of the cashflows of YPF in the Loma Campana field with partners in Argentina – Observatorio Petrolero Sur (OpSur) and Andres Knobel, Consultant at Tax Justice Network – within the scope of our Financial Modeling Program.
When modeling the cashflows of a project, however, we require data on production, costs, reserves and prices. OpSur had already gathered partnership agreements and YPF Quarterly reports, from which we have figures for production, reserves and operating costs. But we still needed to update the data on reserves and find figures for exploration, development and transportation costs.
Finding information with Aleph
This is where the OpenOil search engine, Aleph, comes into play. We use it to search through corporate filings of publicly listed extractive companies so that we can find the missing data.
Let’s start by searching for “loma campana gas reserves” in Aleph. This throws a list of 17 documents spanning years 2012 to 2016.
Clicking on the most recent document, a 20-F form, shows a preview of it. And the pages containing relevant information are highlighted and sorted by either filing data or relevance to our query.
In the top right search bar of this page, we can make internal searches in the document. So we look for “gas”:
Voilà! Here are the figures for all types (PDP, PDNP, PUD and TR) gas reserves for the project, as of December 2015.
Next, we want to find data on the different categories of cost. This, however, proved more challenging and led to some unexpected interesting findings.
Figures on costs are often listed in financial reports. But a first search of “loma campana
financial report” leads to only two documents of 2013 and 2014. We want to find better information, so we make another general search for “loma campana capital expenditure”, a term that is more specific to what we want to look up. This search throws up 7 documents, from 2013 to 2016.
This time we go to the second document listed, a 6-K Form, given that the first contains text in a format difficult to read. In this, there is only one mention of our search term, but we are lucky: it contains information on development costs.
Even more interesting is that it also mentions the participation of another company, Compañía de Hidrocarburo No Convencional S.R.L. (“CHNC”), in 50% of the exploitation of Loma Campana. And it also mentions gas and oil purchases of YPF to CHNC in years 2013, 2014 and 2015, and net balances for the same period. A general search in Aleph for “loma campana chnc” lists 13 documents we could review in the future.
For now, we continue with an internal search of term “loma campana” within this document. We find three pages mentioning it. Going to the first mentioning, we find more unexpected but relevant information on royalties and development costs.
With this data – although still patchy and incomplete – we are much closer to being able to model the cashflows of the project, but that’s for another post. In the meantime, however, we would like to continue being informed on more data coming into Aleph. So we simply go to the top right of the page and add a weekly alert. This way, we will receive emails every time a document with new mentions of our search term is added to Aleph, and with reminders of our search.
Hopefully by now you are now convinced of using Aleph for finding relevant information on the extractive industries. Our experts in Open Oil will be glad to give you advice on how to incorporate Aleph to your work.
Press Release For Immediate Use
Berlin, 4 August 2016 – OpenOil, a Berlin-based consultancy, has launched Aleph, a new tool that enables government officials, journalists, financial analysts and researchers to search through corporate filings of publicly listed extractive companies across multiple jurisdictions.
At launch, users can utilise Aleph to search through more than two million documents, a database that grows in real time as coverage keeps expanding. Documents filed to main mining reporting jurisdictions such as Canada, United States, Australia and South Africa, among others, are indexed and made searchable, with direct links to the originals.
Speaking about the motivation behind Aleph, Johnny West, OpenOil’s Director, said, “Companies operate globally but report locally. It is very hard to have a view of what they are doing around the world – except, of course, if you are their shareholder or regulator.”
“With Aleph, anybody can read and analyse what these companies are telling their shareholders and regulators,” he added.
Users can search for specific companies and peruse specific documents. They can also create alerts for search items built around companies, persons and/or countries. Whenever new documents that fit the search criteria are filed, users will be notified directly by email, with links to the documents.
Aleph also indexes OpenOil’s repository of extractive contracts, making them all searchable from the same interface — and making Aleph a timesaver for anyone tracking major extractive companies.
Aleph is developed with financial support from the Shuttleworth Foundation and ODINE. It advances OpenOil’s commitment to transparency in the extractive sector, along with other offerings such as public interest financial modelling, corporate mapping, and concession mapping.
Aleph can be accessed at http://aleph.openoil.net
Olumide Abimbola, Head of OpenOil R&D, email@example.com
Lucile Neden, Aleph Project Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
OpenOil UG is a Berlin-based consultancy, publishing house and training provider. Founded in 2011, the company resides at the intersection of open data and governance of natural resources, specialising in the use of public domain data for extractive sector transparency.
With the coming into effect of the European directive on mandatory disclosures in the extractive sector in the UK and France, this year will see the publication of entirely new data by major players in the mining, oil and gas industries. Companies have to publish their payments to governments, the nature of the payments and their recipients if these exceed $100.000. Companies also need to disclose payment data relating to each project.
London Stock Exchange-listed oil giant BP p.l.c. has published its Payments to Government Report for 2015. According to the report, the company has paid a total of $ 15.19 billion to governments in its countries of operation. Here is an overview of the report. It shows how much BP has payed to and received from governments, which types of payments it made and how the payments compare to each other. It is a quick visualisation rather than an analysis. However, any questions related to the payments are starting points for relevant data analysis.
Within the EITI process, the issue of beneficial ownership has gained momentum. After a successful pilot phase to which 11 countries voluntarily signed up, the 2016 EITI standard now requires all 51 implementing countries to ensure that companies disclose their beneficial owners. These are early days, however, and so far reporting on beneficial ownership is showing significant gaps, as well as a high degree of variance in the information that is disclosed.
So what can you do to find out about the owners of a company, if the information is not yet available in an EITI report? And even if it is, how can you verify that the information provided is actually correct? Financial regulators in many countries already require companies to disclose information on their shareholders and subsidiaries, so that our corporate filings database Aleph can help you to find it – and here is how.
1) Who is controlling Kansanshi Mining PLC?
Let’s have a look at Zambia’s 2014 EITI report. On p.15, we find a chart with the top 5 payments to government by operating company. We see that combined, they make up for 70% of all payments to the government of Zambia. Of special interest is Kansanshi Mining Plc, which alone accounts for 32.86% of the payments. So what is the parent company of Kansanshi Mining Plc? Since we are dealing with the 2014 report, we will try to find a filing from 2014.
Example Aleph search term “Kansanshi mining Subsidiaries 2014″~50
Search for the name of a company, ‘subsidiaries’ and ‘year’ in proximity of fifty words, the distance within which all included words should be from one another.
The search leads us to First Quantum’s annual information form for 2014, filed to the Canadian Stock exchange authority’s filing system SEDAR. On page 5, the report includes a hierarchical table with its subsidiaries. Here, we learn that First Quantum has an 80% interest in Kansanshi Mining Plc. Other top-players from the EITI report are also included in the list. Kalumbila Mines Ltd belongs to First Quantum, which has a 100% interest in the operation, as well as First Quantum Mining and Operations Ltd. But to whom do the other 20% of the Kansanshi operation belong? Further down on p.15, the project has its own section. First Quantum states that the other 20% of Kansanshi are owned by a subsidiary of Zambia’s state-owned ZCCM.
In this case, we have been able to confirm the information provided by the ZEITI report, which includes a list of beneficial ownership structures on p.128.
2) Mopani Copper Mines Plc
Things become more interesting, however, if we look at another company in the Zambia EITI report: Mopani Copper Mines Plc, the third largest contributor to government payments. Trying the exact same search terms in Aleph will lead to a miss. So we adjust them:
Search for the same terms as before, but without a date and widen the proximity from fifty to hundred.
The new search leads us to reports from mainly two companies; Glencore Plc and Katanga mining Ltd. Since we are looking for the ultimate owner, Glencore is a more likely candidate, because it is a multinational enterprise. A 2014 report is included, with a listing of ownership structures. On p. 186, we read that Glencore has a 73.1% interest in the Mopani Copper Mines Plc. This time, the information provided by the Glencore report does not match ZEITI’s information. According to the latter, Mopani copper Mines Plc is owned by 73.1% by First Quantum, 16.9% by Glencore Xtrata and 10% by a ZCCM subsidiary. Strikingly, we have the exact same figure for the majority owner, namely 73.1%. It looks as if the ZEITI report confused both companies.
To summarise: using our Aleph database helped validating the figures stated in the EITI report, and in the second case, it even helped identifying mistakes. In other cases, the database can help filling out missing information about stakeholders. However, it is also important to note that the availability of information depends on the respective financial regulations. Keeping this in mind, the Aleph database proves to be a powerful tool to complement existing research as well as to support access to publicly available data on intercompany ownership structures.
Of course, all this is Aleph working networks of corporate affiliation structures – so it is not yet leading to the ultimate beneficial owners, which will always be a natural person. We will follow that up in a separate post.
The Paris agreement is a game-changer. Now that world leaders have agreed – finally – to do something about climate change at the end of 2015, everything changes in terms of the way we exploit natural resources. To manage that agreement, we need an inventory of the world and everything in it – in open data. And, like any open data ecosystem, it will need millions of eyes on it. Why do we need it? What will it look like? What’s your role in it? Johnny West, founder of OpenOil, explains at Re:publica 2016.
For more about the talk, visit the Re:Publica Website here.