Oil, Gas and Mining Transparency Advocates Join the Data Revolution

Oil, Gas and Mining Transparency Advocates Join the Data Revolution


This post originally appeared on the 2016 International Open Data Conference

on October 5, 2016. This post also appears on Extract-A-Fact

​2016 is an historic year for transparency advocates and data geeks alike.

After fourteen years of campaigning by the global Publish What You Pay (PWYP) coalition,
laws requiring oil, gas and mining companies to publicly disclose project-level payments to governments for access to natural resources are

now in force

in over 30 countries. This means we will know how much each covered company paid in royalties,
taxes, fees, and other vital information for every project in every country of operation.

Too often, natural resource wealth has served to enrich

corrupt corporate execs

andpolitical elites,
while the owners of those natural resources – citizens – have been left footing the bill for environmental destruction, community displacements, and lost
economic opportunities. These reports present a treasure trove of information for
advocacy groups, data scientists, journalists and citizens. Now, they can dig deep into oil, gas and mining data that was previously shrouded in secrecy.

In fact, some of the world’s largest extractive companies either listed or incorporated in the European Union, like Shell (UK), BP (UK), Total (France),
Statoil (Norway) and Rio Tinto (UK), have already published their first reports. We can expect reporting from Canadian listed/incorporated companies in
2017; with the bulk of US-listed company reports disclosed in 2019.

Transparency advocates are beginning the hard work of sifting through this newly released data, and have already begun asking important questions like:

Leading organizations have also formed new initiatives to provide activists with the opportunity to more easily engage with this data, and to train a new
generation of data savvy transparency advocates and citizens.

At Publish What You Pay – United States (PWYP-US), we launched a website in June – Extract-A-Fact – with the intention of empowering citizens, activists and
journalists to harness oil, gas, and mining data and use it as a tool to demand accountability from governments and extractive companies. Extract-A-Fact
does this by providing training modules detailing useful and creative ways to find, analyze, and visualize extractives data, as well as blog posts from
PWYP-US and our partners as we dig deeper into oil, gas, and mining sector data to answer questions critical to communities impacted by natural resources.

Over the past year, other important initiatives and tools have sprung up across the globe:

  • In 2015, Publish What You Pay International launched the innovativeData Extractors Program, which brought together activists from France, Indonesia, Mongolia,
    Mozambique, Niger, The Philippines, UK, US, Zambia and Zimbabwe to train them in how to use oil, gas and mining data through peer learning, mentoring,
    workshops, and case study development and analysis. (Full disclosure, the author is a proud participant in the Data Extractors program).
  • Open Oil
    recently launched its Aleph Search Engine; an innovative tool that allows users to search
    extractive companies’ public financial disclosure documents submitted to regulators around the world. These filings are updated daily and users can set
    up alerts to have documents delivered directly to their inboxes.
  • The Natural Resource Governance Institute developed ResourceProjects.org – a data portal that collects payment data on oil, gas and mining
    projects and links it with associated data on project location, contracts, licenses and other key bits of information.

These new initiatives are already empowering activists to demand accountability for how their country’s natural resources are managed. But civil society
groups are not the only actors who recognize the importance of these disclosures. Recently, the law firm Holland & Knight (citing research done by a PWYP Data

wrote that payment transparency

could lead to increased voluntary Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) disclosures, aid law-enforcement officials in investigating possible FCPA
violations, and have a deterrent effect on corruption.

This new era in extractives transparency is why I am so excited for
IODC 2016
. If youbelieve that a country’s natural resources belong to the citizens who live there, and that profits made from those resources should be used to
benefit those people, rather than swell the pockets of
corrupt government officials and shady executives – let’s talk. I want to work with you to brainstorm ways we can fight corruption by
translating this data into accountability.

Interested to know more? Follow us on twitter – @pwypusa @janalmorgan @pwyptweets
#ExtractAFact #NoSecretDeals