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Oil, Gas and Mining

Corruption and fraud in the oil, gas and mining industries keeps poor countries poor and props up brutal regimes. Companies and governments must end the secrecy and bring deals and profits into the open. Read more

Money from oil, gas and mining can help lift entire countries out of poverty in much of the developing world. Properly managed, it can build schools, hospitals and roads, and reduce dependency on international aid. But all too often, the revenue goes missing because deals are done behind closed doors, allowing small, corrupt elites to profit at the expense of ordinary citizens. 

From Angola to Kazakhstan to Uganda, Global Witness’ investigations show how secrecy in this industry entrenches corruption and props up kleptocratic regimes. Experts estimate that in Nigeria alone a staggering $400 billion of oil revenue has been stolen or misused since 1960. Companies are complicit in this problem. By paying bribes and doing deals in secret, they distort markets and stop citizens from knowing the value of the wealth beneath their feet, or from reaping the benefits.

While our investigations highlight some of the worst examples of this problem, our advocacy looks for ways to change the system. In 2002 we co-founded the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) movement which now includes over 800 organisations. PWYP campaigns to make companies declare the payments they make to governments in return for oil, gas and mining contracts. This enables citizens to ask whether their government has used the money going into state coffers wisely and fairly.  

Today, the tide is turning towards transparency. In 2014, the UK passed laws requiring companies to publish their payments for each of their projects, making it the first country to implement an EU-wide directive with the same objective. But in the US, the implementing rules for similar laws passed in 2010 are still being negotiated after being stalled by a group of oil companies intent on derailing them. 

We must keep the pressure on boardrooms and governments all over the world. Bringing natural resource deals into the open is one of the best chances we have of tackling the root causes of poverty.