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A Guide to Navigating Canada’s New Oil, Gas, and Mining Disclosures

This post originally appeared on Extract-A-Fact.

Hundreds of oil, gas and mining companies have now reported their payments to governments, as required by the Canadian Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA). Citizens now have access to a massive pool of previously hidden payment data that can help fuel their efforts to hold governments and companies accountable for how their natural resources are managed. The hundreds of ESTMA reports include disclosures from Chinese state-owned firm CNOOC on Canadian and global operations, ExxonMobil on operations within Canada, and Chevron on operations in Canada and Nigeria.

This post will show you step-by-step how to access those reports.

ESTMA requires that all natural resource companies that do business in Canada, or are listed on Canadian stock exchanges, such as the Toronto stock exchanges (TSX, TSXV), must submit reports on their payments to governments. The Canadian reporting requirements closely align with the requirements in effect in the European Union and Norway. Covered companies must report their payments by project in every country of operation.

Canada is one of the world’s largest extractive industries markets. Over 500 company reports are now available through the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) website, and many more are expected to be posted in the coming weeks and months.The more than 500 reports that are currently posted can feel like a lot to sort through. You can make it easier by using the following spreadsheets from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)  to search for companies by your country of interest, and then finding the corresponding ESTMA reports. The TSX site hosts pages detailing listed companies within the oil & gas sector (spreadsheet download) and the mining sector (spreadsheet download).The rightmost columns of the TSX spreadsheets indicate where each company has operations within rough regional categories. Subnational territories are also indicated for Canada and the United States.

With a number of companies identified, you can navigate to the NRCan page that lists all currently published company reports. There is no search function, but clicking ‘Expand All’ will present you with an alphabetical list of reports.

Company reports must pass a compliance check prior to being published on the NRCan page. If you do not find a particular company’s report, it is likely published on the company’s website and can be found by entering ”{Company name}+ESTMA” into any search engine.

Of the several hundred posted reports, a small number are available in a data user-friendly Microsoft Excel format. The vast majority of posted reports are in PDF format.

Fortunately, Extract-A-Fact has tackled this data usability problem before. Consult our tutorial post on using Tabula to learn how you can scrape pdf documents to transform data from a PDF into Excel spreadsheets.

The reports present payments under two headings. The ‘Payments by Payee’ section aligns each payment with the individual recipient government entity. The second section, ‘Payments by Project,’ organizes all the of the payments according to each individual project.

Publish What You Pay Canada and the Natural Resource Governance Institute are creating a central database of ESTMA disclosures that will be released in the coming months. Check back on Extract-A-Fact for more information and sign up for our newsletter to receive our updates. For more on the analysis that can be done with the ESTMA reports read this post from Claire Woodside of PWYP-Canada.

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