Video from launch of the Piping Profits report: Interview with Nick Mathiason

The background for the report

 In many countries north and south of the equator, citizens are asking whether lucrative deals to extract their countries’ non-renewable and finite natural resources provide meaningful investment opportunities to escape poverty.

A change of focus 

Until now, the main focus of questions in this respect has been on corruption and poor leadership, as citizens have both a right and a duty to hold their leaders accountable. History has given us countless examples of a state’s apparatus and its leaders failing to protect citizens and promote democracy. That said, many nation states find it virtually impossible to penetrate the secrecy surrounding international billion dollar agreements to extract non- renewable and finite natural resources.

The secrecy industry

Global financial and technological integration has made it easier for multinational companies to structure transactions and profit between jurisdictions, helped by armies of corporate accountants and lawyers. Out of public sight, around 60-70% of multinational trade is intragroup through the use of subsidiaries.

How bad is it?

So Publish What You Pay Norway wanted to establish the number of subsidiaries extractive companies use, where they are located and how many of them are incorporated in so-called ‘secrecy jurisdictions’. We commissioned Nick Mathiason, Business Correspondent at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and a former senior Guardian and Observer journalist, to carry out a journalistic investigation, working with participants in our TRACE programme to see what information they could gather. They have worked tirelessly to uncover information in many countries worldwide.

What did we do?

 We have examined 10 of the world´s largest international extractive companies

We have mapped these companies number of subsidiaries

We have mapped where the subsidiaries are incorporated

We have mapped the number of subsidiaries located in tax havens

We have mapped preferences related to tax havens

We have confirmed how difficult it is to get information, both in the North and in the South

We have created a database where we have plotted these findings, which we will make available on our web page

We show the companies´ reported revenues, their reported costs, their reported total tax on income and their reported net profits.

What did we find?

 Ten of the world’s most powerful oil, gas and mining companies own 6,038 subsidiaries

Over a third of their subsidiaries are based in secrecy jurisdictions. (34.5%)

The global Extractive Industry’s favourite place to incorporate is by far the US state of Delaware with 15.2% of the subsidiaries located there.

The second favourite Extractive Industry Company (EIC) Secrecy Jurisdiction is the Netherlands, where 358 subsidiaries belonging to EI giants are based.

Chevron is the most opaque EIC major in this study. 62% of Chevron’s 77 subsidiaries are located in Secrecy Jurisdictions.

ConocoPhillips is the second most opaque oil and gas major in this report with 57% of its 536 subsidiaries incorporated in Secrecy Jurisdictions.

Chevron, Conoco and Exxon are the three US EI major companies surveyed in this report. Combined, 439 (56.1%) of those three North American oil majors’ 783 subsidiaries are incorporated in Secrecy Jurisdictions.

Glencore International AG is the most opaque mining company in the Piping Profits survey with 46% of its 46 subsidiaries incorporated in Secrecy Jurisdictions.

Please see our "Piping Profits Database" where the information we found is available with search functions on parent companies, subsidiary names, locations of subsidiaries and the percentage owned by the parent company


We are honoured that Raymond Baker, director of Global Financial Integrity and the author of Capitalism’s Achilles Heel, has agreed to write the introduction to this report. We would also like to thank Kevin Kallaugher, the eminent Economist illustrator, for creating the art on the front cover, and world renowned photographer Gideon Mendel for contributing his photographs of African miners which appear in this report. Finally, we would like to thank all those who have supported us with their knowledge and precious time in the making of this report.


This report would not have been possible without funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through its Dialogue programme. We are very grateful for this.