…Chatham House Advisor says nation will need “trusted” agencies and individuals for oil sector
By Kiana Wilburg
As Guyana inches closer to oil production, the systems for accurate reporting on the sector will be essential.
This point was recently made by Advisor to Chatham House on Oil and Gas, Mr. Anthony Paul.
The Oil and Gas expert said that Guyana, like other new petroleum producers have done, will need to develop programmes for a robust oil and gas sector. He said that one of these programmes includes creating trusted individuals, agencies and channels for providing up-to-date information to citizens.
The Chatham House Advisor was careful to note as well that having policies which may dictate the disclosure of data is not enough. In the case of Ghana and Nigeria for example, there are policies which expressly state that petroleum data should be released. But in several instances, there have been criticisms where the data was said to be inflated.
The Chatham House Advisor shared that Brazil has a very comprehensive system of collecting and reporting petroleum data. But its efficient reporting required “trusted individuals, agencies and channels…”
Paul also stated that in the case of Trinidad and Tobago, the nation’s regulations provide for the disclosure of oil information. Those regulations have been in place since 1970. However, TT is now about to put mechanisms in place to get “credible” data. The Chatham advisor noted that this was due to the fact that the regulatory capacity of Trinidad and Tobago was not where it should have been.
OTHER CRUCIAL FACTORS
The Oil and Gas expert also noted that there will be a need for other programmes to complement the aforementioned.
In Guyana’s case, Paul said there would be a need for educating citizens, special interest groups and the media on the workings of the industry; providing platforms for engaging with civil society (two way conversations) and demonstrating that feedback is incorporated into management of the sector.
Aware of the potential impacts of the “resource curse,” the Chatham House Advisor said that several international NGOs and multilateral agencies have been engaged in improving governance of natural resources in new oil and gas producing countries.
Paul stated that the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) has been a leader in this respect and has developed a whole compendium of tools, including Natural Resource Charter, which provides a structured approach for developing countries to manage the multiple facets of resource governance for sustainable development.
The Advisor noted that the Chatham House New Petroleum Producers Discussion Group (NPPDG) has been assisting Guyana.
He noted too that the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and several others have developed guidelines and tools that can be useful to government regulators and to Civil Society in developing their capacity to hold government accountable in managing the resources.
Paul emphasized that there are lots of lessons that can be learnt from these interventions.
GLOBAL WITNESS SUPPORTS
The Global Witness is an international body that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide.
It is one of many institutions, which has implored governments of oil nations around the world, to ensure that certain documents are released for citizens to scrutinize.
It notes that these documents should include Production Sharing Agreements for the oil and gas sector; Licence agreements; Safety inspection reports; Environmental Impact Assessments; and Approved development plans (with tightly defined exemptions).
The anticorruption body believes that Governments should also ensure that company records are carefully recorded and published online. The Global Witness also stressed that the ultimate beneficial owner of companies bidding for contracts or participating in the extractive sector should be declared and published.
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