Dodd-Frank ruling sparks energy debate

Aug. 23, 2012 at 8:55 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- A U.S. energy trade group said a ruling in disclosure of payments to foreign companies is an obstacle, though a rights group said it was a welcome decision.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that oil and natural gas companies must disclose payments made to foreign governments. The SEC said it was adopting the rules through the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act.

Global Witness, an advocacy group seeking to decouple conflict from natural resources, gave tempered support for the SEC ruling.

"We welcome the fact that companies will not be able to exempt themselves from reporting in countries where governments do not want revenues disclosed: exemptions represented a 'tyrants' charter'," the group said in a statement. "The SEC's announcement on de minimis requirements looks promising but requires further scrutiny."

The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing more than 500 oil and natural gas companies, said the decision was a blow to the U.S. energy sector.

"The rules will give foreign oil and natural gas companies access to confidential, proprietary information that they could use against U.S. companies when competing for crucial energy resources around the globe," said API Chief Economist John Felmy.

The SEC said compliance is mandated starting Sept. 30, 2013.

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