Lea este blog en español.Today is an important day for extractives governance. The international board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is meeting in Bogota, Colombia, to discuss implementation of EITI’s 2013 project-level reporting requirement. Big U.S. oil companies, and specifically Chevron with its seat on the EITI board, have blocked this requirement for almost four years, claiming that it should not come into effect until a U.S. SEC rule mandating that oil and mining companies disclose payments to governments also comes into force.
(The board will also decide on the status of Azerbaijan in EITI, an equally important decision relating to the importance of protective civic space.)
At the same time, these companies have taken every opportunity to block the SEC rules and have therefore held EITI hostage in this important area of reporting which provides critical and relevant information to local communities, governments and investors. This type of reporting also enables companies to demonstrate the economic contribution they are making in relation to specific projects and the communities they affect.
In a Financial Times opinion piece published today NRGI president and CEO Daniel Kaufmann explores the recent U.S. disapproval of the SEC’s rule. He also calls on those who value transparency in extractives to support implementation of the EITI project-level requirement and thereby break Big American oil companies’ stranglehold on the issue.
The stance of Chevron and other big U.S. oil companies is simply untenable. These companies cannot be allowed to prevent project-level reporting from flourishing in all 51 EITI countries. Currently, a quarter of all EITI countries already disclose project-level payments to some degree. The EITI international secretariat notes that many local company representatives operating in implementing countries agree that project-level reporting is a good idea, and offered numerous examples of how this type of reporting adds value. Companies reporting under mandatory disclosure regimes in Europe and Canada have disclosed information on over 2,000 projects in 112 countries. These include six of the seven international oil and mining companies represented on the EITI international board. Even Chevron’s U.K. subsidiary reports on payments to the British government under U.K. law—it’s not that hard, is it?
Joseph Williams is a senior advocacy officer with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI).