3 QUESTIONS FOR NRGI PRESIDENT DANIEL KAUFMANN
or not? And [knowing] who benefits [is important] because if there are interlinkages with politicians it might not benefit the whole population but only some cronies and elites.
So [beneficial ownership] is a crucial aspect but there is still a way to go before fully fledged required implementation. We are reviewing the results and lessons of the pilot phase so at the board level we can have discussions as to how it should be implemented. Because let’s face it, there are also practical issues regarding implementation. Do you always rely on public government registries? The answer is probably not. Instead, one goes to a company and basically asks them to fully disclose and there are ways to monitor and vet.
Is there a benefit to adopting the EITI for a country like Lebanon before signing exploration and production agreement (EPA) contracts?
Absolutely. Already you can start setting up the systems for transparency once the contracts come about – the structure of reporting. Many of the countries that might not be rich in natural resources are adopting the EITI because there are also issues of transit pipelines and the revenues from those. Or if it is an important financial center, or there may also be trading issues involving oil and gas at ports. So it is not all about production – for instance we’re working very hard for the Swiss to implement the EITI and they don’t have [a significant extractive industry] but they have very important trading companies.
How important is international legislation like the United States’ Dodd-Frank Act or the European Union’s Accounting and Transparency Directives to hold multinational companies accountable, and what can be done regarding governments?
The mandatory disclosure requirements following the Dodd-Frank initiative and the EU Directives essentially puts the pressure on companies to do their part to disclose. Why do I mention companies? In terms of the responsibility of the recipient government to also disclose that’s where the EITI is an important initiative. So what’s important [is that], eventually in Lebanon if there are deals for exploration and production, international companies report, and that will be governed by the EU Directives and the Dodd-Frank. That should be good enough, but from a Lebanon perspective it’s going to be making the government accountable and that’s where the EITI comes in – some countries are enacting legislation to implement the EITI to make it internally mandatory. cubic feet of gas, it is larger than the previous record holder, Israel’s Leviathan. The find is so close to the Cypriot border that, at time of writing, there were speculations in the Cypriot press that it might bleed over, meaning Nicosia would get a cut of revenues under an earlier agreement with Cairo. Either way, Total said in response that it would re-evaluate plans for the neighboring Cypriot block to which it has rights. Even in times of decreased investment because of the price pounding, ENI’s discovery has certainly put the eastern Mediterranean back in the headlines.