While South Sudan’s relatively new laws governing petroleum production and revenue are strong on contract management, there is a need for more transparency.
This was the opinion expressed by Dana Wilkins, a campaigner for Global Witness, a UK-based group that investigates and campaigns to prevent natural resource related conflict and corruption” at a meeting launching the report Blueprint for Prosperity”, which is about how South Sudan’s new laws hold the key to a transparent and accountable oil sector”.
Wilkins felt that there should be more transparency around sales and bidding in the oil sector in South Sudan. Confidentiality clauses in various laws still deny the public too much vital information and, if used inappropriately, they could mean more corruption around oil contracts, she said.
South Sudan passed the Petroleum Act in 2012 and this governs how oil contracts are allocated as well as production and marketing. Meanwhile the draft Petroleum Revenue Management Bill sets out the framework and management system for percentages of oil revenue to be paid to various local communities.
And it seems that so far, despite current and draft laws, it has been difficult to access this kind of information -- even for MPs. The head of South Sudan’s parliamentary committee on energy and mining, Henry Odwar, says that it’s possible that Kuwait’s oil company, Kufpec, and the US-based Exxon Mobil will go into business in Jonglei State.
Parliament will have to look into those agreements,” Odwar said. But, he added, as an example of non-transparency, he had already written to the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining and had not received anything back.
Still, when it comes to oil-related matters, it is easier to work with the parliamentarians than it is to work with the executive, Martin Kwori, from Cordaid points out.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to enable locals to make the best decisions about natural resources, Taban Kiston, programme coordinator at the South Sudan Law Society said they are planning a programme that will educate and empower locals about oil production and petrol laws.