EITI reporting coming of age

Yr.no is one of Norway’s most visited website. It provides information about the weather and, as if we didn’t know it already, it reveals that it has rained for 11 of the last 14 days here in Oslo. Over lunch I end up in a discussion if weather is better here or in England and I return to the net to search for statistics to prove my point. Finding information about the weather in Norway and England is easy, finding data that can be easily compared is harder.

Inspired by the geeky founder of Gapminder, Hans Rosling and their motto “unveiling statistics for a fact based world view”, we have today here at the secretariat put the finishing touches to our eleventh update on progress in 31 countries implementing the EITI. The EITI is a wide movement – there are maybe 400 people that are part of the multi-stakeholder groups, hundreds of colleagues at national EITI secretariats and stakeholders in civil society organizations, companies and governments and the ten of us here in Oslo and Berlin.  Together we are beginning to have a story to tell. We are starting to have comparable data and unveil statistics for fact based natural resource governance.

Just under half a billion people are living in countries that have produced EITI reports and they now have the opportunity to see what their country is earning from the sale of oil, gas and minerals and metals – many can do so for the first time.

A total of 47 EITI Reports have been produced by 22 countries (including Equatorial Guinea) since reporting began in 2005. Although still limited, reports offer an opportunity for interesting comparisons of data on how much different countries produce and earn. Reports are also highlighting interesting points regarding what types of payments are most important for countries, such as the fact that corporate taxes are often larger than royalty payments in most mining countries (and often the opposite in oil producers). We know that researchers, the IMF, and investors, are beginning to pore over these reports. As the quality and regularity of EITI Reports continues to improve, the information provided will vastly increase what people can learn about their country's extractives sector.

The readability of EITI Reports varies between countries, but many such as Norway, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mongolia, have produced reports with excellent executive summaries which clearly highlight key data such as total revenues covered in the report, reporting period and type of payments covered in the report, broken down company-by-company, for the ease of the reader. Using this data in combination with production data from other sources such as the US Energy Information Administration, further helps to create a fuller picture of what a country is receiving for its resources. For example, a quick look at Norway’s first report reveals that Norway in 2008 earned some 400 bn NOK (appr. US$63 bn) for its oil and gas sales, which, according to US EIA was 2.5M BPD of oil and 3500 BCF of gas.

We must be careful when comparing. Producing oil is not the same in Norway as elsewhere. EITI reports are however becoming better and better and they are starting to tell a story, that can also shed light on whether a country and its citizens are getting a good deal or not. We are starting to arrive at the EITI aim of providing meaningful transparency and creating debate.