Recent Articles

Nigeria's National Assembly is currently reviewing a sweeping Petroleum Industry Bill, which would dramatically restructure the management of the country's oil industry in an effort to improve management, reduce corruption, and promote long-term development.
On September 23, as a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced legislation to broaden disclosure of international extractive industry payments, more than 200 activists, policymakers, industry representatives and government officials gathered for a conference that may herald a new stage in the global movement for natural resource transparency and accountability. The event marked the release of Revenue Watch's report Contracts Confidential: Ending Secret Deals in the Extractive Industries, which challenges most of the common objections to openness in extractive industry contracts.
On November 11, at 12:30 pm, the Revenue Watch Institute hosted a lunchtime discussion at the Open Society Institute with author Peter Maass about his new book, Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil (Knopf, 2009). In Crude World, Maass examines "oil's indelible impact on the countries that produce it and the people who possess it," bringing stories of the so-called "resource curse" that transparency advocates have long discussed to a broader public. In
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue October 9 covers a Peruvian community's rejection of mining activities; a move to unsubsidized energy bills in Argentina; and setbacks in the implementation of the Mutún mining project in Bolivia.
Away from the political controversies over international policy and mismanagement of extractive revenues, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) plays a quiet but pivotal role in steering the transparency of the energy industry. This is the body that determines what a company has to disclose in its annual financial statements.
International Alert (IA), an independent peace building organization that works in communities affected by violent conflict, recently launched a report on Uganda's emerging petroleum industry, "Harnessing Oil for Peace and Development in Uganda: Understanding National, Local and Cross-border Conflict Risks Associated with Oil Discoveries in the Albertine Rift." The report is the second briefing paper in International Alert's "Investing in Peace" series, which targets policy-makers in government, development partners, civil society and the private sector to explore the "political economy" of conflicts in Uganda.
This July, Brazil installed a Parliamentary Investigation Committee to clarify a number of accusations of corruption involving the National Petroleum Agency and Petrobrás. The appointment of the committee comes at a momentous time, as Brazil debates a new legal framework for hydrocarbon management, prepares for general elections in 2010 and considers its future as a possible oil giant following massive recent petroleum discoveries. While determining the future governance of a potentially major petroleum power, Brazil's government must also ensure that the Committee can conduct a credible investigation as a necessary step towards greater transparency.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue September 24 covers Doe Run's extension on Peru's Environmental Adaptation and Management Program; Ecuador's New Hydrocarbon Law; and Repsol's discovery of a large natural gas deposit in Venezuela.
It is widely known that a transparent "company-state" relationship is a key factor for resource-rich countries seeking efficient management of their natural resources to benefit current and future generations. Transparency in the extractive industries makes it possible to track resource development and the use of resource revenues. Governments in resource-rich countries are showing increasing enthusiasm for transparency initiatives, and demonstrating a new readiness to embrace accepted international standards.
In the heightened political climate surrounding Iraq's upcoming election, lawmakers and others in Iraq are criticizing the country's pending natural gas deal with Shell Oil, saying that it offers lopsided benefits to the international oil giant and that it was drafted without adequate transparency or oversight.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue September 9 covers proposed regulatory changes for Brazil's pre-sal are; legislative Changes in Peru and Chile; and Mexico's PEMEX Reform.
News from Iraq indicates that on July 28 the Cabinet agreed upon a bill establishing a new National Oil Company (NOC), to help develop the country's petroleum and ramp up production to meet the government's pressing revenue needs. The details of the bill have not been released, but a strong commercial company with a clear mandate could be instrumental in the revitalization of Iraq's oil sector. However, this enabling legislation cannot be a stand-alone action. A national company will be doomed to fail if it arrives unaccompanied by core laws to govern Iraq's oil sector.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue August 25 covers debate in Peru over how to ensure that Camisea gas supplies can cover increasing domestic demand; Bolivia's proposal to amend gas contracts with Brazil and Argentina; and Ecuador's service contracts with private companies.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue June 25 covers Ecuador's intensified oil sales; falling hydrocarbon and copper exports in some Latin American countries; and growing numbers of state-owned oil companies seeking financing for their investment plans.
Transparency was at the forefront of discussions on Europe's energy future at the summit on "Natural Gas for Europe: Security and Partnership" in Sofia, Bulgaria this spring. In the Declaration of the Sofia Energy Summit, participating government workers, heads of state and diplomats agreed upon the need for transparency, accountability and improved public financial reporting concerning the energy sector. The Declaration affirmed several principles for natural gas policies in Europe.
On June 26, 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ended his historic four-day visit to Africa. During his trip, Medvedev and a group of Russian businessmen visited Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, and Namibia. In 2006, Medvedev's predecessor Vladimir Putin visited South Africa and Morocco without generating any visible progress on economic ties between Russia and African countries. However, the situation has changed.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Central Asian country of Turkmenistan was left with substantial natural gas endowments, estimated at between 4 and 14 trillion cubic meters, and a poorly diversified export market for its natural gas. The only pipeline connecting Turkmenistan with its ultimate consumers in Europe runs through Russia and is almost entirely controlled by the monopolistic, state-controlled Russian gas company, Gazprom. 
Though the summer headlines for Afghanistan are likely to be filled with talk of the upcoming elections and debates about troop levels, the Ministries of Mines and Finances will continue working quietly to improve governance and secure sources of long-term revenue for the country.  Over July and August, the Ministry of Mines will be accepting bids from qualified oil and gas companies on three oil and gas blocks in Afghanistan
Issue July 9 covers mining canon resource distribution in Peru; the rising importance of state-owned oil companies in several Latin American countries; and PDVSA's efforts to find financing from bond issue to cover its debts.
In April, a pipeline explosion disrupted natural gas supplies from Turkmenistan to Russia. Though official investigation results have not yet been released, the media has speculated that shrinking demand from Europe prompted the state-controlled Russian gas company, Gazprom, to shut down the pipeline without advanced warning to Turkmen officials. The resulting pressure buildup apparently caused a blast along the Turkmen section of the pipeline, and now some in Turkmenistan are accusing Gazprom of deliberate negligence, and are threatening to seek damages in the international courts.
Carlos Monge, RWI Latin America Regional Coordinator, and colleagues deliver fresh news and insight. Issue June 9 covers falling outputs from Latin American hydrocarbon companies; Ecuador's agreements to increase mining production; and the effects of the rising trend in international oil prices for net exporters in Latin America.
Citizen groups in Azerbaijan have decried two new state oil development contracts signed without public notice, in a reversal of years of commendable transparency in oil negotiations. The deals covering four oil fields were made with a relatively unknown company and in the absence of the financial and training provisions that would normally benefit Azerbaijan in such an agreement.
The IBP, which released its annual Open Budget Index for 2008 this February, has created a new brief exploring the importance of budget transparency for donors, to help ensure the effectiveness of aid to reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic growth while preventing leakages, corruption, and mismanagement.
In a policy briefing on resource revenue management in Ghana, Antoine Heuty of RWI and Andrés Mejía Acosta of the Institute of Development Studies explore how domestic political factors may influence development outcomes through the management of natural resource revenues. Though Ghana is among the world's top ten exporters of gold, nearly 80% of the population lives on less than two U.S. dollars per day.
Corruption is widely perceived as a long-standing and influential component of Nigeria's oil sector operations. In a two-part policy brief published by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre which is based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Alexandra Gillies provides an introductory mapping of where this corruption takes place, how it impairs sector operations, and the efforts at its reduction. Gillies is a Fulbright Fellow to Nigeria from the University of Cambridge and co-editor of Smart Aid for African Development.