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S&P calls for more oil data

Financial Times: S&P calls for more oil data: “Nigeria was a large part of the shortfall when Royal/Dutch Shell was forced to cut its reserves by 23 per cent this year.”

By James Boxell in London

1 October 2004

The world’s biggest energy companies must do more to improve the transparency of their oil and gas reserves reporting, according to Standard & Poor’s.

In a new report calling for much greater disclosure from the oil majors, the credit agency is scathing about their refusal to provide a country-by-country breakdown of reserves.

Eric Tanguy, S&P’s credit analyst, said the absence of detail on the amount of reserves in individual countries made it difficult to establish levels of risk in developing areas such as Africa. Oil majors are notoriously guarded about providing details on individual fields or countries, citing fears over confidentiality and competitive advantage.

Africa represented 32 per cent of Total’s proven reserves at the end of 2003 and 13 per cent of Exxon-Mobil’s, but the companies provided no further split.

BP failed to separate out its African total, including the continent in a broad “rest of world” category.

Mr Tanguy said: “This is particularly frustrating when such a breakdown is generally available for production and when just a few countries probably account for the bulk of the groups’ African reserves.”

Nigeria was a large part of the shortfall when Royal/Dutch Shell was forced to cut its reserves by 23 per cent this year.

Mr Tanguy said: “It would be interesting to confront proved reserves bookings by all oil majors for this country.”

The report also calls on the oil companies to explain how they audit reserves and to use external petroleum engineers to provide consistent standards across the industry.

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