By Johnny West, OpenOil
This post originally appeared on OpenOil.net on March 15, 2018
This analysis was referenced in an April 8, 2018 Bloomberg article "Exxon Sparks IMF Concern With Weighty Returns in Tiny Guyana."
Guyana’s first and major oil deal, with ExxonMobil, produces results for the government which are outlier low, an OpenOil financial model reveals. Over the life of the project the government should expect to see from 52% to 54% of profits, compared to well over 60% in a cluster of comparable projects signed in other frontier countries.
The gap could cost the small South American country billions of dollars, as successful drilling continues apace in the Stabroek field, and recoverable reserves figures climb into the billions of barrels.
The relatively low performance of the Stabroek terms, first signed in 1999 and renegotiated in 2016, following the first significant discovery the previous year, holds under a wide variety of market and field size conditions.
There is also a significant possibility, as reserves growth gathers pace, that Exxon and its partners Hess and Nexen could achieve “super profits”, rates of return of over 25% and edging considerably higher under certain conditions, as this profit map of the project shows.
The agreement has become controversial in Guyana in the past year or so and the contract was published by the government at the end of 2017 to allow public scrutiny. The financial model and this accompanying narrative are based on that contract, as well as public statements and media reports giving details of reserves, development lead time and costs.
Even under conservative assumptions, Stabroek will transform Guyana. Government revenues could hit a billion dollars a year by 2024 – more than the entire current government budget.
The 52% Average Effective Tax Rate (also known as “the government take”) is lower than a general rule of thumb of 60% to 80% government take in oil projects, and also from a range of frontier projects in Ghana, Senegal, Papua New Guinea, Mauritania and Guinea, which were comparable at the time of signature. A more detailed description of the comparison methodology is laid out in the Annex to the narrative report.
What is significant here is to understand the role reserves growth scenarios could play in increasing company rates of return. At the currently stated field size of 450 million barrels in Stabroek, for example, the company does not reach “super profits”, defined here as an Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 25% or more, until a price point of $75 per barrel for oil. But this field size relates only to the first stage of development of the field now underway, with first oil anticipated for 2020. A second phase is now under active consideration by the companies, with a projected production plateau which could be twice as high as in the first phase. If the amount of oil produced rose only modestly, compared to Exxon’s declared reserves, to 750 million barrels, the superprofit level (25% IRR) could be reached at $50 per barrel – below today’s prices. At a billion barrels, that stage could be reached with prices in the $40s per barrel.
The FAST-compliant financial model and accompanying report are part of OpenOil’s public interesting financial modelling library, part of a practise as commercial and financial analysts to governments and public policy makers.
A second stage of the model will be published in the coming weeks, to incorporate feedback from interested parties, and quantify how revenue streams could play for both investors and the government under a modified fiscal regime.
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By Alexander Malden, Governance Associate; Toyin Akinniyi, Media Capacity Development Associate; Zira John Quaghe, Nigeria officer - Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)
This post originally appeared on resource governance.org on April 10, 2018
On Monday, Shell released its payments to governments report for 2017, the company’s third year of reporting under the U.K.’s Reports on Payments to Governments Regulations. Nigeria national media closely covered the disclosure.
In the 24 hours since Shell published its report, six national media outlets in Nigeria--Punch, Vanguard, This Day, The Cable, World Stage and Leadership—have analyzed the news.
This level of immediate national press coverage reaffirms the importance of payments to government data to citizens in resource-rich countries, and how it is increasingly informing national debates on countries’ natural resources management.
Similar laws to the U.K.’s in Europe and Canada have come into force over the last few years to shed light on billions paid to governments around the world by oil, gas and mining companies. Greater disclosure of these financial flows can deter corruption and mismanagement in the natural resource sector.
Shell reported payments made to governments in 29 countries amounting to USD 22.4 billion in 2017. Nigeria is the largest payment recipient at USD 4.3 billion (NGN 1.5 trillion), a USD 700 million increase on the amount Shell paid to Nigerian government entities in 2016. As analysis by Vanguardnoted, this NGN 1.5 trillion figure represents 15 percent of Nigeria’s NGN 10.6 trillion total government revenue for 2017. (This total includes both oil and non-oil sources.)
Shell is the third international oil company to disclose payments to Nigerian government entities for 2017, with Statoil (USD 469 million) and Total (USD 1.15 billion) having already reported in March. Chevron, CNOOC, Eni and Seplat are all expected to disclose payments for 2017 by the end of May.
The stories written include analysis breaking Shell’s Nigeria payments up by recipient government entity (USD 3.2 billion to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; USD 80 million to the Niger Delta Development Commission; USD 280 million to the Department of Petroleum Resources; and USD 765.5 million to the Federal Inland Revenue Service) and by payment type (USD 3.2 billion to production entitlement; USD 765.5 million in taxes; USD 245.7 million in royalties; and USD 114 million in fees).
NRGI has been working to promote the use of this data in Nigeria. In December, NRGI published Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Revenues: Insights from New Company Disclosures. The briefing explores how payments to governments data from Shell and six other international oil companies operating in Nigeria could be used to hold the government accountable for revenues generated from the sector.
NRGI is co-hosting a meeting with nongovernmental organization Connected Development in Abuja on Wednesday with around 20 Nigerian civil society organizations to launch the briefing. We aim to explore new ways in which civil society within the country can use this data as an accountability tool. NRGI has already been working to support Nigeria civil society organizations to use this data, including working with BudgIT, which produced infographics analyzing Shell’s 2016 payments to governments report.
NRGI also works with Nigeria-based journalists through the Media for Oil Reform Fellowship to promote the use of extractives industries data. Program fellow and Punch senior correspondent ‘Femi Asu was among the journalists who reported on the Shell disclosure.
As a new data source—most companies have reported for only the second or third time this year—it is exciting to see stakeholders in Nigeria engaging with payments to governments data as an informative and accountability tool.
By Miles Litvinoff, Publish What You Pay - United Kingdom
This post originally appeared on publishwhatyoupay.org on September 11, 2017
The London Stock Exchange’s (LSE) Alternative Investment Market (AIM) was launched in 1995 for smaller and growing international companies looking to raise capital for expansion. AIM describes itself as “the most successful growth market in the world”. The UK government has sung its praises. Lesser known than the LSE’s Main Market where larger, more established international companies’ securities are traded, AIM has over the years helped more than 3,700 companies raise more than £100 billion.
Approximately 200 oil, gas and mining companies trade on AIM. Although generally smaller than LSE Main Market companies, AIM companies have grown over the years. AIM extractive companies’ combined market capitalisation runs into the billions of pounds, which can make them significant actors relative to the size of host country economies where many citizens are still desperately poor. They operate in 40 developing and transition countries, including 22 lower- and lower-middle-income countries as defined by the World Bank, and in all the BRICS.
Fraud and corruption
The LSE recently asked for views on proposed changes to the AIM rules, including rules of corporate governance. Investigations by Global Witness, Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) and others have revealed significant cases of fraud, corruption and other abuses involving AIM extractive companies. The risks involved are acknowledged by the UK government: “The absence of good governance and the lack of transparency around [payments to governments] reduce the positive impact that extractive industries can have on economic development … [and] negatively impacts on, and increases the risk for, … companies and investors active in the extractives sector through civil unrest and poor business environment.”
Publish What You Pay UK responded to the recent LSE consultation by proposing that all LSE AIM-traded oil, gas and mining companies be required to annually report their payments to governments following the same rules that apply to the 90-plus LSE Main Market-traded and large private UK-registered extractive companies now disclosing their payments each year under UK law. AIM extractive company reporting should meet the same requirements. The UK regulations’ £86,000 disclosure threshold, applied per single payment or series of related payments, will prevent AIM extractive companies from being unreasonably burdened by having to report inconsequential payments.
Benefits of transparency
Benefits would be considerable. First, there would be consistency in addressing investor and reputational risk. The LSE already requires extractive companies to disclose payments to governments of more than £10,000 on applying for admission to AIM, as well as to annually report estimated reserves and resources. Regular payment reporting by AIM extractive companies will help citizens hold their governments to account for revenues received, better inform investors and improve the UK’s, the LSE’s and AIM’s reputation for corporate governance.
The LSE’s discussion paper recognises AIM investors’ need to fully understand the businesses in which they invest and the associated risks. Payment to government disclosure helps investors make informed decisions and promotes confidence in the market. This is why large numbers of European and North American institutional investors and fund managers support both the EITI and mandatory public country-by-country project-level reporting.
AIM needs to maintain appropriate levels of corporate governance as its traded companies grow in size and as expectations regarding corporate accountability rightly become more demanding. With a current average market capitalisation of approximately £50 million, AIM oil, gas and mining companies are far from small in the eyes of ordinary people, and not all AIM companies will plan to graduate to trading on the Main Market. These factors make it inappropriate to apply fewer transparency requirements to AIM extractive companies than to their Main Market counterparts.
Public country-by-country project-level reporting is increasingly accepted as the industry norm. As Tom Butler, chief executive of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), said in early 2017: “[T]he global trend is in the [pro-transparency] direction. The train has left the station. It is driven by investors and other stakeholders and the desire of the industry to maintain its social license to operate. One way to maintain that is for everyone to see that the taxes and other payments the mining industry makes are applied sensibly to the development of the country.”
No UK institution should be encouraging a race to the bottom in terms of corporate transparency standards.
It is high time, then, for the LSE to extend annual payment disclosure beyond Main Market-traded extractive companies to AIM-traded ones. In the UK government’s words: “Shareholders, investors, employees, competitors, civil society groups, the media and other external stakeholders view companies’ disclosure of payments … as an example of principled leadership. … Regular … [r]eports on payments and revenues can improve the creditworthiness of both companies and countries.”
Read PWYP UK’s submission to the AIM Rules Review 2017.
The following case study is part of the Publish What You Pay International Secretariat’s Data Extractors program, a global initiative that trains Publish What You Pay members and activists around the world to put extractives data to use to fight for a more open and accountable natural resource sector.
This case study began with a not-so-simple question: Is the United States getting a good deal for the depletion of its natural resources?
Publish What You Pay – United States ( PWYP-US) has worked for 13 years to open the books of oil, gas and mining companies to create a more open and accountable extractives sector. More than a decade into this effort, many of the world’s largest oil, gas and mining companies now disclose their project-level payments to governments, either voluntarily or in compliance with legal requirements. Yet, a few major US oil companies – namely ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips – remain strongly opposed to these simple financial disclosures.
Like the citizens in resource-rich countries around the world, citizens of the United States also need to know if they are getting a good deal on their natural resources. Thoroughly answering this question, however, is incredibly complex and involves the careful analysis of contracts, as well as relevant tax and royalty regimes governing the extractives sector. As a starting point, this case study focuses on how much some of the largest extractives companies paid in taxes to the US federal government in 2015.
Read the full case study on the Publish What You Pay International Secretariat site.
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