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Yemen - What do EITI reports tell us ?

Below is an excerpt of a blog from Tawfiq Al-Budiji, coordinator of the PWYP affiliated coalition in Yemen, about how EITI reports can inform civil society’s campaign for an open and transparent extractive sector that benefits all citizens. Visit our site to read the whole blog.

… So what does the 2008-2010 EITI report from Yemen tell us? Or rather, what does it not tell us?

The key when analysing EITI reports is to not get distracted by small discrepancies and detail, but to look at the larger stories the numbers are trying to tell.

A quick look at the crude oil production and value figures in the report show us that oil production is falling.

Although the government put up 15 new exploratory oil blocks for auction earlier this year there is, as always, no guarantee that exploratory blocks will automatically yield productive fields.

If the oil boom is indeed ending what plans has our government put in place to diversify our economy beyond oil?

Could other minerals be exploited to replace oil? Unfortunately this report did not include mining revenues. We know that nearly 95% of all mining companies operating in Yemen are exploratory and only a meagre 5% are in production, but as a coalition we still believe that revenues flowing in from this sector should be transparent. That is why we negotiated for mining revenues to be included in the next EITI reconciliation report, which is due before the end of December.

When looking at whether the crude oil the government receives is exported or goes to refineries for domestic consumption, we see that… almost half of the crude oil the government gets is sent to refineries for domestic consumption.

With this in mind, why is it that we face energy shortages?  Yemen suffers from severe electricity cuts that can last up to 12 hours a day…

… read the rest of the blog here.

Botswana – Fracking in the dark

This photo of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was taken by Christian Baltrusch and is from flickr creative commons.

Botswana has long been cited as a shining example in natural resource governance. Yet, as this documentary funded by OSISA reveals, there has been a heavy dose of secrecy surrounding exploitation in Botswana, secrecy that threatens the biodiversity of the country and well-being of its citizens.

The government of Botswana has been granting concessions, over vast amounts of land, for natural gas exploitation. They have been doing so without consulting or informing local communities, leaving these unable to enforce their rights.

These covertly granted concessions cover areas such as the Chobe National Park, home to ‘the  largest herd of migrating elephants left in the world’ and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, ancestral land of the San.

This story only came to light accidently - filmmakers preparing a documentary on fracking in South Africa found evidence that fracking and drilling was already taking place in Botswana, and that international companies were planning future projects.

Awarding licenses in an open and transparent manner is crucial for effective natural resource management. Citizens cannot enforce their rights without being properly informed as to the extractive projects planned in their local communities.

"The Batswana have the right to know about developments on this scale and to decide whether they are in their best interest. Instead, the authorities keep everyone in the dark, particularly the San, who now face another grave threat to their future from Botswana's secret dash for gas" said Richard Lee, Communications Manager for OSISA.

The story, however, does not end there. The latest piece  from OSISA reveals that ‘after a week of denials, the Botswana government finally admitted yesterday that fracking operations have taken place in the country’. The government has also released a map showing the latest natural gas concessions. While this shows progress, it is worrying that the map shows concessions planned in the territory of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – a wildlife preserve and conservation area home to more than 200 species of birds.

Botswana has long been celebrated for having escaped the resource curse. Let us hope that the lure of gas does not cause the government to continue secretive extraction to the detriment of its citizens. As Lee from OSISA states, “Admitting that fracking has taken place in Botswana is a step in the right direction but the government now needs to tell the whole truth about all the gas operations in the country - past and present”.

To find out more

Watch The High Cost of Cheap Gas

Read Richard Lee’s blog on the topic, ‘Everything that is wrong with natural resource extraction in southern Africa ’

There is also a photo gallery  to browse and the story was covered in the Guardian.

Workshop for civil society in French-speaking Africa on the new EITI standard

Below is an excerpt of a blog from our new Francophone Regional Coordinator for West Africa, Saidou Arji. It covers the training in Ougadougou on the new EITI standard. You can read the full blog on our website.

Members of Publish What You Pay coalitions in French-speaking Africa took part in a workshop on the new standards of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) from 5 to 7 November 2013.

The aim of the workshop was for the participants to learn about the EITI’s new requirements, adopted at the 6th EITI global conference held in Sydney (Australia) on 23 and 24 May 2013. The requirements, which emphasise transparency and the role to be played by civil-society organisations, are based on the publication of exhaustive information on production data, revenue management and social impact.

Certain aspects of the new requirements drew attention from the participants, in particular the contribution to the economy made by the extractive industries for the financial year covered by the EITI report, the type of payments obtained by states (monetary payments and payments in kind), the publication of production volumes and value, sub-national transfers and receipts not recorded in the national budget.

The EITI certainly represents a significant advance but this process alone is not sufficient to define all aspects of the extractive sector. This is the reason why Patrick Heller, RWI’s Senior Legal Adviser, suggested to participants that they should continue to make use of independent audits, countries’ annual budget performance reports and any other documents that provide reliable data. Mr Heller also advised them to use contracts to gain a clearer understanding of the data contained in the EITI reports. “There is no obligation in the new standards to publish contracts but it is strongly encouraged,” he added. 

… Visit our site to reach the rest of the blog.

In brief

This photo was taken by Jon S and is from flickr creative commons.

  • Will the US match UK commitments to combat oil, gas, and mining corruption? Read this great blog from our PWYP US coordinator Jana Morgan.
  • What kind of impact has contract monitoring had on the ground? Patrick Heller from the Revenue Watch Institute takes us through some case studies.
  • What does mining in Africa have to do with Canada? Quite a lot, as it happens.
  • Why are resource-rich countries poor? It’s political incentives that result in bad decisions about oil, gas, and mining revenues. Great blog from our colleague over at Oxfam America, Keith Slack.

Reversing the resource curse: a training course

The Revenue Watch Institute, Natural Resources Charter and the School of Public Policy at the Central European University are accepting applications for the advanced course, "Reversing the Resource Curse: Theory & Practice 2014."

The course is open to exceptional individuals from civil society, government, international organisations and academia who already have a solid understanding of the subject matter but seek to enhance their knowledge and skills in order to play a more prominent role in developing, monitoring/evaluating the mineral and petroleum sectors in their countries and across the globe.

For more information and how to apply, visit RWI’s website.

TRACE campaign kicks off in Canada!

Engineers Without Borders Canada – a member of PWYP Canada – has launched the campaign for TRansparent and ACcountable Extractives (TRACE).

The campaign, which runs until early December, aims to turn Canadian Prime Minister Harper’s statement on mandatory disclosure from a pledge into a reality. Last June, just before the G8 summit, Prime Minister Harper announced that the country would establish “new mandatory reporting standards for Canadian companies operating in [the extractives] sector.”

The key to realising this goal lies with the Canadian provinces. In amending their provincial securities regulations, Canadian provinces can oblige extractive companies listed in their jurisdiction to publish their payments. This would enable citizens in resource-rich countries to access information about what their country is getting for their resources, and enable them to hold their government to account for how the money is spent. EWB has compiled resources, built a website and organised learning workshops across the country to help ‘Canadians from coast to coast’ call on their ‘provincial governments to develop mandatory reporting standards for Canadian listed extractives companies.’

Who would benefit from these transparency rules? As it turns out, such a law would benefit citizens from all around the world. It would empower the Mauritanian citizen who wants to know how much revenue his government is getting for his gold. It would help the activist from DRC in her campaign for her local community to receive the 15% of mining revenue it is owed. These rules would help a journalist or a parliamentarian in their role, and support the industry actor who believes that a transparent way of doing business is a good way of doing business, and one which reduces mistrust and conflict.

With 60% of the world’s extractive companies listed in Canada, the change we are talking about is no small one.

In implementing such rules, Canada would also be joining the global push for transparency, which has over the past few years seen the EU and US introduce transparency measures for extractive companies and an increasing number of resource-rich countries joining the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. 

Want to find out more? Why not check out the TRACE Campaign website, or explore #traceit  on twitter? Also, if you’d like to learn more about PWYP Canada, visit their site.

Case Study Project

PWYP Canada and PWYP US have joined forces to launch a case study project.

This project aims: 1) to document and catalogue existing cases used by PWYP campaigners that demonstrate the benefits of transparency  and/or the problems of opacity, 2) to expand the universe of cases available to PWYP campaigners and 3) to develop a publication documenting these cases that can be distributed to key stakeholders. The PWYP network has used case evidence to demonstrate the power of transparency/secrecy to change lives and shape development. We believe that expanding the pool of evidence that documents these benefits and harms will help to strengthen our campaigns.

To fulfill the goals of this project we are looking for two types of case study examples:

1. Instances where a where a lack of transparency has been harmful to the political, economic and social sectors of a country; and

2. Cases where transparency has led to positive changes and improved outcomes.

These cases can be well documented in reports produced by your organization or another organization you are familiar with, but they can equally be a simple description and perhaps a newspaper article. We would ask that you send any and all examples of transparency/opacity that you have encountered in your work.

Upon completion, we plan to share these ‘real world examples’ with the network to be used by all our members and partners to demonstrate the critical importance of transparency. We will collect case studies until the end of the year, but to ensure your case is included in a PWYP report please send them to PWYPCaseStudy@gmail.com in the next few weeks.

For any questions regarding this project please feel free to contact Claire Woodside (cwoodside@pwyp.ca) or Jana Morgan (jmorgan@pwypusa.org)