From Mr Simon Taylor.
Sir, Dorothée Heinze’s attack (“Merit of project-by-project reporting”, Letters, April 30) on former BP boss John Browne’s support for project-level reporting is ill informed.
Ms Heinze is correct on the difficulty of creating project-level disclosure rules; the Securities and Exchange Commission is over a year late in issuing the rules that will govern section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act that requires oil, gas and mining companies to disclose this information. However, the source of this difficulty lies with the oil industry’s tactics rather than problems devising a definition that works. The American Petroleum Institute has made a thinly veiled lawsuit threat to the SEC should it implement rules the API does not agree with.
On her second point Ms Heinze suggests that levels of government reporting would satisfy the objective of the legislation. Global Witness has demonstrated time and again that this is patently untrue. Reporting that leaves out the project enables its protagonists to claim their commitment to transparency, while in reality ensuring the continuation of the opacity that dictators use to loot their states.
At stake here is the future wellbeing of millions of the world’s poorest people and the reputation of Europe and the US in complicity in the looting of their states by kleptocratic leaders. European officials and MEPs have an opportunity to play a key role, along with their US colleagues and officials in Hong Kong, to create a new global standard of transparency and accountability. For this to happen, efforts by the oil industry to water down these efforts should be seen for what they are: moves likely to keep their activities in the dark.
Simon Taylor, Director, Global Witness Co-founder, Publish What You Pay coalition