National Oil Companies (NOCs) are responsible for 55 percent of global oil and gas production and as much as 90 percent of worldwide reserves. They also play a dominant role in the economies of their home countries - collecting huge shares of public revenues, executing complex projects and, too often, sitting at the center of large corruption scandals. In spite of their importance, NOCs have been subject to much less scrutiny than private oil companies such as Chevron and ExxonMobil, in part because they have traditionally been opaque.
This year marked an effort to change this equation with the launch of the
National Oil Company Database
, published by the Natural Resource Governance Institute and developed by CLEE Senior Visiting Fellow
. The database assembles financial, operational and performance information on 71 NOCs worldwide, drawing on company and government reporting. It is the first free public resource of its kind, enabling researchers and advocates to analyze global trends among these companies and helping oil-dependent governments benchmark how well their companies are delivering returns on public assets. The database and its
associated research publications
underscore the importance of improving company transparency, carefully setting rules on how much debt they can take on and subjecting company leadership to rigorous performance assessments.
Among other factors, borrowing and spending by NOCs will have a major influence on their governments' abilities to shift away from fossil fuels. Many NOCs are being tasked with championing their countries' efforts to promote energy transition, but they are deeply entrenched in the political economy of oil, and in many cases are reinvesting the
majority of the money
they collect back into new and ongoing fossil fuel projects.
Since its launch, the database has attracted the attention of policymakers in a number of oil-dependent countries, and has been featured in a range of international publications including the