Tullow Opens Up in Coup for Transparency Advocates


There was a groundbreaking moment this week as Tullow Oil, a London-based, Africa-focused company, disclosed the payments it makes to foreign governments.

In doing so, Tullow, a major player in the push for oil in Uganda, became a pioneer. It is the first oil or mining company to report such payments at a project-by-project level.

As The Wall Street Journal’s Samuel Rubenfeld explains, Tullow laid out what it paid in taxes, license fees, infrastructure improvements and bonuses, as well as voluntary disclosures it made such as the amounts in value-added and withholding taxes it paid per project.

This is the first fruit of a European Union directive approved in June 2013 that echoed and in some cases went further than the U.S. Dodd-Frank Act. All 28 EU member states are required to have project-level disclosure legislation in place by July 2015, so Tullow’s move puts it ahead of the game.

For activist groups such as Global Witness, Tullow’s disclosure puts pressure on its peers and “blows a hole in the argument made by some oil companies that project-level reporting will impose a heavy burden on business.”