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What an Effective SEC Rule on Oil and Mining Transparency Should Look Like

NRGI has made a submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in relation to the rulemaking for Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Section 1504 tasked the SEC with writing rules to require oil, gas and mining companies listed on US stock exchanges to disclose the payments they make to governments around the world for the right to extract natural resources. Companies must disclose this information for each of their projects.

Our submission highlights the technical reporting specifications for companies which will soon be reporting their payments to governments under a similar law in the United Kingdom. In the submission we demonstrate:

  • The technical specifications for how extractive companies will be reporting under the UK regulations using the UK template.
  • How readers of such reports will be able to visualize and benefit from this data on payments to governments.
  • Why the model of disclosure advocated by the American Petroleum Institute is incompatible and of very limited value to users when compared to the UK’s statutory reporting requirements, which will in any case apply to a number of major New York Stock Exchange-listed oil, gas and mining companies.

As part of our submission we included a number of files which we are making available for download here:

  • Completed templates based on the UK reporting schema containing data from four companies required to report under Norwegian law, and from two additional companies that have voluntarily reported in line with the 2013 EU Accounting and Transparency Directives. The files include data from Statoil, Tullow Oil, Kosmos Energy, Norsk Hydro, African Petroleum Corporation and Wentworth Resources.

    Download the completed UK templates here (ZIP format)
  • A file that brings all of the data together to illustrate how investors, civil society actors and other stakeholders can benefit from it.

    Download the illustrations file here (XLS format)

We make clear in our submission that the model of disclosure advocated by the American Petroleum Institute, which has previously sued the SEC and prevented an original rule from coming into effect, is incompatible with the global payment disclosure standard which many jurisdictions, including the European Union, Norway and Canada, have already put in place. Many major oil companies which are members of the American Petroleum Institute would prefer an extremely limited form of disclosure where the names of companies making specific payments to governments would be withheld from the public and project-level payments would be obscured.

NRGI’s submission can be found on the SEC’s website here.

Joseph Williams is NRGI’s senior advocacy officer.