Prof Sospeter Muhongo, Tanzania’s Minister of Energy and Minerals, speaking in parliament last week, said that there was no way his ministry would submit gas contracts to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament. This is despite the PAC having repeatedly requested the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) to provide copies of the 26 Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) the government has signed with oil and gas exploration companies. And despite the arrest (briefly) of the TPDC Chair and acting Executive Director for refusing to comply, on the orders of the PAC chair, Zitto Kabwe.
Here’s what Prof Muhongo said:
“We have to adhere to government regulations. We cannot subject the contracts to public discussions, because they are regulations in place governing them. Even contracts between individuals, like yourself and somebody else must be governed by certain rules.”
Last weekend, Statoil management finally broke their silence on their leaked contract for gas production in Tanzania. In an interview with The Citizen newspaper, Statoil’s Country Manager for Tanzania, Øystein Michelsen, spoke at length, including on the subject of contract transparency:
“Statoil respects the position of any government in the countries where we operate with regards to whether the contracts are made publicly available or not. In a number of countries where we operate the contracts are publicly available and Statoil does comply with that position. In Tanzania, the contracts are confidential and for that matter, Statoil also complies with that position.” [my emphasis]
“In 2012, Transparency ranked Statoil as the most transparent company among the world 105 largest publicly traded companies [see here]. We will continue to promote transparency, but we will also respect contract terms and the obligations we have towards our partners.”
The Citizen used this as their headline: “Investors accuse govt of keeping contracts secret.” And the point is clear: Statoil has no objection to contract transparency. Continue reading →
It’s good to see the Statoil gas story continues to make headlines in the Tanzanian press. Today (Monday) saw The Citizen lead with the story, asking some very pertinent questions about the contract and TPDC’s response to it.
I disagree with the TPDC statement, which I feel continues to misunderstand the issue. They are still not engaging with the key point: that the terms of the signed PSA (the leaked document) are significantly worse for Tanzania than the terms of the model PSA.
But it’s actually a different point I want to focus on here: transparency. Continue reading →
Over the weekend, the Tanzanian press finally began to pick up the leaked Statoil PSA story, prompted by Zitto Kabwe’s comments on the issue (in English and Swahili).
The Guardian made the story its front page lead on Saturday (5/7/14), while other papers caught up on Monday (7/7/14): This Day (front page lead); Mwananchi, Nipashe and Mtanzania (second or third on front page); and Daily News – see slideshow below. Majira had a cartoon today (see above), as did The Guardian on Sunday (see bottom of post). This Day also printed in full my piece in African Arguments last week.