25 oil and gas companies in Myanmar have set a global precedent by publishing who their real owners are, as detailed in this report, The Shell Starts To Crack.
Since October 2013, Myanmar’s Ministry of Energy has awarded 36 oil and gas blocks to 46 international companies and private local companies. The revenues from these sales could drive development in one of the world’s poorest countries.
In June 2014, Global Witness raised concerns that secrecy surrounding company ownership could result in the money being lost to corruption. Anonymous or secret company ownership structures are routinely used across the world to hide illicit activities from public scrutiny and law enforcement.
In response to the Global Witness survey, all companies investing in 17 of these blocks have now declared who ultimately owns and controls them. Crucially, 10 private companies have provided complete information on the individuals who own and control them, and responded to questions on high-level political connections. Armed with this information, citizens can check who these individuals are, and raise concerns over possible conflicts of interest or corruption risks. However, a hard core of 18 companies have not yet declared their ownership.
This development comes amid somewhat mixed progress towards fairer and more open management of the country’s valuable natural resources.
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Myanmar’s Oil and Gas
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Oil, Gas and Mining
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.
Myanmar is so closely identified with natural resources such as jade, rubies and teak that its name is a brand in itself. But so far its people have not benefited from the brand.