DUSHANBE, November 17, 2014, Asia-Plus -- OpenOil and its partners on November 10 launched the world’s first comprehensive archive of oil contracts. Some 385 host government contracts from 54 countries are now available with one click.

The repository reportedly includes contracts which govern oil production in many countries where disclosure has largely been unknown, such as Algeria, Angola, Chad, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen.  All contracts had previously been put in public domain but were scattered across scores of websites and buried in corporate filings. PWYP Canada outlines how corporate disclosures were mined in a release announcing the project’s joint findings.

According to OpenOil’s statement, more than 100 contracts in the repository were filed by oil companies to Canadian and US financial regulators.  In an effort funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation, the OpenOil team led by Don Hubert and its partners, PWYP Canada and the African Network for Centers of Investigative Journalism (ANCIR), unearthed them by text mining several million documents across the regulator websites going back as far as 1995.

Along with the repository itself, OpenOil has proposed a draft convention to name contract files so they can be easily exchanged between hundreds of organizations working on governance of the extractive industries.

The newly exposed contracts are particularly promising in Africa, where projects from Angola, Chad and Tanzania are among those newly brought to light, the statement says.

The repository includes contracts relating to other developments in the global oil industry, such as coal bed methane projects in China, offshore gas in India, and Israel’s rapid transition to major gas producer in the Eastern Mediterranean. Contracts from Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Kurdistan and Syria also shed rare light on the Middle Eastern oil economy.

PWYP-Canada is the Canadian coalition of Publish What You Pay, a global network of over 800 civil society organizations united in their call for oil, gas and mining revenues to form the basis for development and improve the lives of citizens in resource-rich countries.

The African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting is a coalition of the continent’s best muckraking newsrooms and centers.