Corruption and information

April 2, 2012
The recent article "Focusing on corruption" argues that the fight against corruption "is too important to be allowed to serve as cover for other political agendas..

The recent article "Focusing on corruption" argues that the fight against corruption "is too important to be allowed to serve as cover for other political agendas (OGJ, Mar. 5, 2012, p. 26)." The article names Publish What You Pay and several of its US member groups as "obstructionist" organizations that "consistently resist oil and gas development."

According to the article, "Two approaches to transparency collide…In one, payments should be disclosed in order to hold governments accountable for use of the money. The other approach makes companies the targets of accountability."

OGJ seems unwilling to accept that these two approaches are fully compatible and both necessary (if insufficient in themselves) to ensure that duty bearers in government and in business are publicly accountable. Citizens and civil society in resource-rich countries need to hold to account both the governments that manage their country's natural resources on their behalf and the companies that are entrusted with the task of developing the resources for the public good.

Dodd-Frank Section 1504, like the proposed new European Union Accounting and Transparency directives, is not just about bribery. Nor is Publish What You Pay hostile to the extractive industries per se. We simply want to see ordinary people worldwide get a good deal from the planet's finite resources.

For this to happen, local communities need to know how much they should receive from the extraction of locally sourced oil, gas, and minerals, which requires companies to report payments to governments at project-level, and wherever possible for each lease, license, or concession. Communities can then judge if they and their country are being paid a fair price. In addition, in the DRC, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines, and elsewhere, where local communities are entitled to–or promised–a certain percentage of revenues, knowing how much revenue is generated from one region or community has real implications for curbing corruption and ensuring peace and stability.

When BP gives a $100 million signature bonus to an unstable regime, or makes multimillion-dollar payments into obscure "social projects" controlled by Angola's highly opaque state oil company, but doesn't deem such payments "material" (see Global Witness briefing, February 2012,, major political and financial risks arise for investors and communities. Citizens, shareholders, and the courageous political representatives and civil society advocates who genuinely want to end corruption all need this level of information.

Miles Litvinoff
Publish What You Pay UK

Support for pipeline

As long as the US and the world's other leading economies continue to derive a significant portion of the energy they need from hostile governments in unstable regions of the world, our energy security will be affected. It is imperative for us to expand our access to safe, secure, and reliable energy. This energy security and self-sufficiency strategy should be built upon a balance of resources including alternative/renewable energy, natural gas, and traditional energy sources including the Keystone XL pipeline.

As chair of the American Council of Engineering Companies' national Environment and Energy Committee and a representative of its 5,000 member firms, I can report that we support the much-needed Keystone XL pipeline. It will nearly double the capacity of the existing Keystone system and support our long-term energy needs while creating significant job growth (over 20,000 jobs during engineering and construction) at a time when it's most needed.

The president's decision to delay this project is disappointing. He must work with Congress to allow this crucial energy project to move forward.

Ralph Christie Jr.
National chairman Environment and Energy Committee
American Council of Engineering Companies
Chairman and chief executive officer
Merrick & Co.
Aurora, Colo.

Unaffordable waste

In the article "US production of refined products entering new era," Ben Montalbano points out that changes in the tax code and the adoption of biofuel mandates are costly (OGJ, Mar. 5, 2012, p. 86). This is a waste we cannot afford when we need to cut spending to avoid a financial catastrophe.

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was an important factor in starting us down this road. It is full of misleading propaganda. One example is a set of graphs of temperature and CO2 concentration for the last 600,000 years. The graphs are very similar, and Gore states: "When there is more CO2 in the atmosphere, the temperature increases because more heat from the sun is trapped inside." However, close studies of the data show that the CO2 changes follow the temperature changes by about 700 years. Therefore, CO2 changes cannot have caused the temperature changes. Instead, temperature changes caused the CO2 changes.

Most of the CO2 on Earth is dissolved in the ocean. As temperature increases, the solubility of CO2 in the ocean decreases, and CO2 is emitted. As temperature decreases, the solubility of CO2 in the ocean increases and CO2 is dissolved, going from the atmosphere into the ocean. Changes in temperature on Earth are probably caused primarily by changes in the output of the sun.

The cost of using expensive, undependable energy sources is entirely wasted. Even worse, if these measures were to succeed in limiting the amount of CO2 emitted, there would be an additional cost because of the beneficial effect of CO2. The rise in CO2 concentration has increased plant growth, which is beneficial in feeding Earth's growing population.

Meanwhile, until more people catch up with the facts, the petroleum industry will have to cope with counterproductive regulations.

William E. Morris
Wilmington, Del.

More Oil & Gas Journal Current Issue Articles
More Oil & Gas Journal Archives Issue Articles
View Oil and Gas Articles on