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Norway placed first in a new international ranking of countries’ management of natural resource extraction and wealth, closely beating out Chile, Britain, and Canada for the top spot.
The New-York-based Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) also said that over four-fifths of the world’s major mining, oil and gas-producing nations fail to productively manage their natural resources due to inadequate corruption and transparency standards.
NRGI ranked 81 countries, 66 of which had “weak, poor or failing” oversight of extraction activities. Canada took fourth place, and the United States took fifth.
"Good governance of extractive industries is a fundamental step out of poverty for the 1.8 billion poor citizens living in the 81 countries we assessed...," NRGI chief Daniel Kaufmann said. "It is encouraging that dozens of countries are adopting extractives laws and regulations, but often these are not matched by meaningful action in practice."
Norway is notorious for its $960 billion sovereign wealth fund, which uses oil and gas profits to fund green energy ventures and social services for its citizens.
Saudi Arabia (69th) and its Gulf allies fared poorly on the list, likely due to the monarchical nature of the regimes and the opacity of the nations’ state-run energy giants. Kuwait (33rd) took the highest spot of GCC nations, while Oman (39th), the United Arab Emirates (54th), Qatar (53rd) and Bahrain (59th) trailed behind. These nations are known for their own sovereign wealth funds that invest in foreign properties and other industries to diversify risk.
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The report emphasized that problems with natural resource management and regulation touch both poor and wealthy nations.
“Western Australia scores low in governance of licensing and taxation,” it said. “The U.S. scores only 50 of 100 points for its policies and practices in protecting the local environment in the Gulf of Mexico. Of the 13 high-income countries in the index, 6—all in the Middle East—fail to achieve either good or satisfactory composite scores.”
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…