State Dept. envisions ‘proactive role’ in oil payment disclosure regs

Pascual said State has a role “both in educating countries of what those requirements are and working with companies as they enter into those market environments.”

“But right now we need to let the legal process work itself out,” Pascual said at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference.

The rule will force SEC-listed oil, natural-gas and mining companies to reveal payments to governments (including the U.S.) related to projects in their countries, such as money for production licenses, taxes, royalties and other aspects of energy and mineral projects.

It’s aimed at increasing transparency to help undo the “resource curse,” in which some impoverished countries in Africa and elsewhere are plagued by high levels of corruption and conflict alongside their energy and mineral wealth.

Critics of the rule say it will impose very costly burdens and put SEC-listed oil companies at a disadvantage overseas against state-owned Russian and Chinese competitors.

Companies including Exxon, Shell and Chevron have fought against the public disclosure mandates, and the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups have sued to overturn the regulation.

Oral arguments in litigation over the rule are scheduled for March 22 before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.