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Former Oil Exec Says Industry Should Embrace Transparency

As energy companies fight U.S. and EU regulations that require industry to be more transparent, one of their alumnus—a former oil company executive—is saying that transparency is the key to economic growth and reducing poverty.

Alan Detheridge, a former executive at oil giant Royal Dutch Shell, wrote in The Guardian last week that the EU should not back down in the face of industry attempts to water down proposed transparency laws. These laws would require oil, gas, and other minerals companies to disclose all payments they make to all governments.

According to Detheridge, the EU should follow the lead of the U.S., which requires full financial disclosure from all oil, gas, and mining companies:

The European rules should align with US legislation and not permit exemptions. Any EU member state that supports exemptions in these rules would undermine the fundamental purpose of the legislation, which is to place information into the hands of those that need it most.

Much like the U.S. law, the new European law is intended to ensure that governments look out for the best interest of taxpayers. Detheridge explained:

The revenues from the [extractive] industry have the potential to drive economic growth and be a powerful force in reducing poverty. However, in some resource-rich countries, these revenue flows are vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement, with little benefit going to the population at large.

Transparency is crucial to tackling this situation. Providing people with information about payments made by companies to governments for oil, gas and mining projects enables citizens to hold their governments to account for the uses to which these resources are put.

By: Mia Steinle
Investigator, POGO

Mia Steinle, Investigator Mia Steinle is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight and the civil society coordinator for the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Her work focuses on government management of the oil, gas, and mining industries.

Topics: Energy and Natural Resources

Related Content: Open Government

Authors: Mia Steinle

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