Global Transparency Initiative Concludes Another Board Meeting Without Holding Oil and Gas Companies Accountable

In a familiar pattern, the EITI Board punted substantive discussions about holding supporting companies accountable to its 2022 Board meeting.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’s (EITI) fall Board meeting concluded today, taking no meaningful action to hold supporting companies accountable for failing to meet core transparency standards. 

This meeting follows the publication of EITI’s own assessment showing that 23% of its supporting companies—including two of the companies on its Board—are not disclosing their payments to governments in line with the EITI Standard they claim to support. Publish What You Pay – US (PWYP-US) along with other civil society members of EITI have repeatedly called on the Board to develop clear sanctions for supporting companies that fail to meet the Standard. While Board Chair Helen Clark tasked the Board with considering consequences for companies not meeting the Expectations at today’s meeting, no such consequences were put forth for discussion, despite urgent calls for sanctions during the meeting from both EITI implementing countries and civil society.

The Board made little progress on its task of clarifying and strengthening company expectations, and instead deferred any meaningful decisions on this until its February 2022 Board meeting. The Board agreed to conduct assessments of supporting companies’ compliance with Company Expectations every three years. However, with no consequences for failing to meet expectations, it is unclear how these assessments will be used to encourage better reporting over time, especially by companies with a record of undermining the EITI.

In a statement, Carly Oboth, Director of PWYP-US, said:

“This week’s Board meeting is a victory for shameless companies like Exxon and Chevron who seek to obstruct accountability and conduct business as usual. As we’ve seen time and again, companies chose to sideline discussion on clarifying meaningful expectations and consequences by endlessly debating points of process. 

The 77% of companies that are disclosing their payments to governments around the world are allowing a few delinquent companies to drag the EITI down. It is particularly disappointing that Board members representing these more transparent mining and oil companies—Anglo American, BHP, BP, Equinor, Rio Tinto, Shell, Southern Peru Copper, and TotalEnergies seem content carrying water for ExxonMobil and Chevron. 

EITI’s new assessment process amounts to little more than a collection of publicly-available data and does nothing to meaningfully hold companies accountable.

Once again, the EITI has shown that it is beholden to the interests of its corporate board members over the core principles of transparency upon which it was founded. For the EITI to make further progress on advancing transparency globally, the EITI Standard must have teeth.

In order for EITI to maintain its credibility, it must update its Company Expectations to establish clear and timely sanctions for all supporting companies, including EITI Board members, who fail to meet the expectations. We hope that the EITI Board can finally achieve this long overdue change by the February meeting, rather than continuing to kick the can down the road.

PWYP-US will continue to withhold our participation in this global transparency initiative, until it shifts course by implementing these critical reforms.”