One year after Global Witness published its report “A Crude Awakening”, which examined massive corruption in Angola and the role of the oil and banking industries, BP have become the first oil company to make a decisive and welcome gesture for transparency in the war-torn country.
The scale of corruption in Angola is very high, where the war has been privatised to the vested interests of top Angolan officials. There is no press freedom to question this situation. There is no data available to Angolans to hold their Government to account for its actions and expenditure.
Global Witness has long argued that the oil companies operating in Angola, but which are not transparent about their payments to Government, are complicit in the wholesale robbery of the Angolan State. This is because they are not providing data about their payments to the Angolan Government, when they clearly could do so – in stark contrast to the data they already provide in their reports in the developed world.
BP are the first company to recognise that this situation must change, providing a useful step in the process of matching company practice to the rhetoric of the company re-branding process. In a letter dated 6th February 2001 to Global Witness, BP Group Managing Director Richard Olver stated in addition to maintaining a regular dialogue with both the World Bank and IMF over Angola, that the company would publish the following information annually on their operations in Angola:
1. Total net production by Block.
2. Aggregate payments by BP to Sonangol in respect of PSA terms.
3. Total taxes and levies paid by BP to the Angolan Government as a result of their operations.
4. Recent “Signature Bonus” payments to Angola of US$111,689,000 for Angola Block 31 are on page 11 of BP Exploration (Angola) Ltd’s 31st December 1999 annual report to Companies House.
“BP have made an excellent move”, said Simon Taylor of Global Witness. “This will not have been an easy decision for them, but it is clear that they have recognised the need to end corporate complicity in the state rip-off we are seeing in Angola today. It follows that there is now no excuse for the other companies in Angola not to do the same. So to that end, we are challenging the leadership of other responsible oil companies to publish this data.”
This decision follows a one year dialogue with various oil companies involved in Angola. This dialogue has also from time to time involved other NGO’s such as Save the Children Fund, Oxfam and Transparency International, and has involved a meeting hosted by the UK Government.
“In light of the inadequacy of the current remit of the IMF’s Staff Monitored Programme1 to deliver transparency in Angola, it is hard to over-emphasise the importance of this move by BP. We will be focusing on the likes of Shell, Norsk Hydro, Statoil, Exxon, Chevron, TotalFinaElf, Agip, Petrogal, Ranger Oil and all the other companies operating in Angola, to be transparent about their payments to the Angolan Government”, said Taylor. “We believe that President Bush, as an oil man himself, has a particular responsibility to ensure that oil giants Chevron and Exxon are as transparent about their payments in Angola, as they are obliged to be in the US”.
Press Release / Feb. 12, 2001