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Hidden Giants

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Hidden Giants

It’s time for more transparency in the management and governance of national oil companies

Finance & Development Magazine,

5 min read
3 take-aways
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Increasing reporting requirements for national oil companies can make them more viable. 

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National oil companies (NOCs) play an enormously important role in the world’s major oil-producing states. The future well-being of these nations is inextricably linked to the economic health of these companies. Yet many NOCs are economically inefficient and burdened with debt. As a group of economists from the Natural Resource Governance Institute argues, increased reporting requirements for NOCs would go a long way in making NOCs more accountable and resilient. Public policy makers and oil industry professionals will find the statistics and analysis illuminating.


National oil companies generally have poor transparency related to key indicators such as capital expenditure, employment and debt.

As of 2019, national oil companies (NOC) control most of the world’s oil and gas production. They play a particularly dominant role in countries whose national economies are strongly dependent on oil production. These countries include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico, and others. Yet many NOCs reveal little information in their financial statements. Although most of them publish production and revenue figures, more than half of them don’t give out data on capital expenditures or employment. Many also don’t disclose...

About the Authors

David Manley and David Mihalyi are senior economic analysts at the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI). Mihalyi is also a visiting fellow at the Central European University’s School of Public Policy. Patrick R.P. Heller is an adviser at NRGI and a senior visiting fellow at the Center on Law, Energy and Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. 

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