Recent Articles

Myanmar’s natural resources, including deposits of oil, natural gas, gemstones and other minerals, have attracted growing interest from foreign and domestic investors at a time of regulatory and institutional change. A newly-elected government led by the National League for Democracy (NLD) appears poised to expand on major political and economic reforms that began in 2010.

Nowhere is the importance – or the challenge – of state-owned economic enterprise management clearer than in the oil and gas sector. While Myanmar’s continued economic opening should attract more investment in this sector, these SEEs already wield outsized influence over public finances.

The prolonged oil slump that began in mid-2014 has made things complicated for Azerbaijan. The rapid decrease of oil revenues—the country’s main economic driver for the past 10 years—poses real threats to macroeconomic and financial stability in Azerbaijan.

The global oil press was aflutter late last week with the announcement by Saudi Aramco that it is “studying various options to allow broad public participation in its equity through the listing in the capital markets of an appropriate percentage of the Company’s shares and/or the listing of a bundle its downstream subsidiaries.” This followed an interview released Thursday in which deputy crown prince Muhammad bin Salman indicated that the kingdom was considering such an option in “the interest of more transparency, and to counter corruption, if any, that may be circling around Aramco.”

Ukraine released its first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative report in December 2015, an important step forward in resource governance for the country. Its publication coincided with the EITI International Secretariat meeting in the country and related events in Odessa and the capital, Kiev.

NRGI’s blog received tens of thousands of unique visits this year. Below, we share the 10 most-read blog pieces of 2015. From country-specific perspectives to globally relevant policy discussions, NRGI experts offered news, insight and prescriptions over the course of the year.

Today, Switzerland-based trading house Trafigura disclosed how much it paid to several governments in exchange for commodities in its first annual responsibility report. For decades, physical commodity traders have embraced secrecy as a basic part of their business model, even when dealing with public institutions. The disclosures by Trafigura represent a much-needed step away from this unfortunate tradition. There remains, however, ample room for improvement.

NRGI president and CEO Daniel Kaufmann, who co-produces the Worldwide Governance Indicators published by the World Bank, discussed his recent article “Corruption Matters” with the IMF’s Bruce Edwards. Published in September in Finance & Development, the piece discusses the larger themes of governance and corruption in Latin America and elsewhere.

Confronting corruption in Latin America--one of the great development challenges the region faces--means understanding the shape it takes in respective nations. NRGI has addressed the topic extensively in the last months.

In a recent blog post for the Brookings Institution, NRGI president Daniel Kaufmann writes about the current “governance moment.” He draws on developments at the UN General Assembly and elsewhere, as well as the release of a new edition of the Worldwide Governance Indicators, to make the point that governance is measurable, and that the resulting data is a critical tool in country-level and global efforts to improve.

Parliamentarians have a crucial role to play in reviewing legislation on oil, gas and minerals, and in overseeing the government’s management of these extractive sectors. For instance, in Ghana members of parliament are actively overseeing the projections and allocations of oil revenues by scrutinizing compliance with the Petroleum Revenue Management Act...

Citizens from resource-rich African countries are showing ever-greater interest in the management of extractive resources. Civil society members and journalists are demanding transparency and accountability.

This week, 29 participants from 13 countries — including Ghana, Chile, Uganda, Myanmar, Mongolia and Guinea — are taking part in our third annual Executive Course in Oil, Gas and Mining Governance in Oxford.

Poor governance and systemic corruption are prevalent in many resource-rich countries. Given their highly concentrated and highly profitable nature, the oil, gas and mining industries can generate the kind of political and private incentives that favor rent-seeking and institutional (or state) capture.

When we think about the “resource curse,” one oft-cited example is oil-rich Venezuela. Despite copious petroleum reserves, people in one of Latin America's top hydrocarbon producers queue for hours outside supermarkets to buy staple foods, and now cite food shortages as a bigger concern than crime.

During the oil boom years earlier this decade, rising petroleum subsidies in importing countries such as Tunisia and Egypt were a constant strain on budgets—and so the collapse in oil prices has produced nuanced challenges for state-owned oil enterprises (SOEs) in both countries.

Nigeria's President recently announced that former ExxonMobil executive Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu will head the national oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Eight top NNPC officials were sacked, and the head of crude oil marketing was “reassigned.” A list of fresh appointments soon followed.

Extractive industry governance and the role of state-owned enterprises across sub-Saharan Africa are squarely in the spotlight after three huge scandals.

Myanmar’s citizens have the potential to benefit from the country’s endowments of oil, gas, and gems, but governance of these industries has been historically problematic and so many actors are pushing for change. Last month, NRGI staff began working with EITI stakeholders in Myanmar on a new project that will use the Natural Resource Charter to help build consensus on priorities for extractive industries reform.

Ghana’s petroleum industry has undergone massive changes in recent years. Discoveries of commercial quantities of oil in the Jubilee fields in 2007 have triggered significant growth in Ghana’s petroleum sector and brought hope that petroleum resources will yield meaningful benefits for Ghana’s people...

Bad practices have kept the West African nation from operating competitively and transparently in oil and gas. Important regulatory agencies including the NNPC are considered weak and unaccountable. The newly elected government has some heavy lifting to do to enact real change.

A largely bureaucratic legislator outside ministry control take the reins. The Southeast Asian nation could also create a new, non-operating state-owned enterprise that would participate in projects and operate alongside Pertamina, the state oil company. Whatever path the country chooses, allocating policing responsibilities is essential.

The price of oil, the commodity that more than any other determines the fortunes of Nigeria, has fallen over 50 percent since June 2014. The country’s 37 billion barrels of oil reserves are now significantly less valuable than before...

Across sub-Saharan Africa, civil society groups and journalists have been playing an increasingly important role in advocating for governance reform. Part of their aim is to increase the chances that their countries’ sub-soil wealth might be transformed into meaningful strides in development.