1. How can I use this website?
ResourceContracts.org serves as an online, searchable and user-friendly repository of publicly available oil, gas, and mining contracts. The site includes: the PDF scan of each contract; the full text of each contract; plain language summaries (called “annotations”) of key social, environmental, human rights, fiscal, and operational terms; and tools for searching and comparing contracts. The goal of the site is to increase the transparency of oil, gas, and mining contracts by providing access to such contracts in a single location as machine-readable open data. Contract transparency can assist a number of stakeholders including: host governments, communities, civil society organizations, investors, the media, and development practitioners in understanding the rights and responsibilities of the contract parties, monitoring contractual obligations, and building trust between governments, investors, and affected communities.
ResourceContracts.org was first launched in 2012, and a new and improved website was released in 2015.
2. What has changed on the new ResourceContracts.org?
The site can now process PDF-based contracts to make them searchable: when a new contract is uploaded to the site it is first processed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. For contracts that are too difficult to process with the OCR software, an online transcription service called Mechanical Turk is used.
Open data formats
Contracts and metadata can now easily be accessed and downloaded in a variety of ways, including as a PDF or text document:
- you can download metadata and contract links for all your search results from the search menu;
- you can download contracts from each Contract Summary page; and
- you can access all contracts as PDF text from the ResourceContracts API.
ResourceContracts.org now provides several ways to search for contracts – or specific contract terms. You can:
use the search bar on the Home and Search pages of the site;
find different categories of contracts by clicking on the icon near the ResourceContracts.org name in the top left corner; and
view contracts by Country, Resource, or Year.
Search by using the dropdown menus available on the Search page.
The drop-down menus on the Search page allow you to search for contracts by:
- Contract Type
- Year Signed
- Company Name
- Corporate Group
- Annotation Categories
- + signifies “AND”: Two or more terms or phrases must be in the description. For instance: consult+indigenous will return search results for documents that contain both consult and indigenous.
- | signifies “OR”: Either one or the other of the multiple terms specified must be in the description. For instance: monitoring|consultation will return search results for documents that contain either monitoring or consultation.
- - negates a search term: Documents possessing the term will be excluded from the search. For instance: -consent will exclude documents containing the word consent.
- " wraps a number of terms to signify a phrase for searching. For instance: “local community” will only return documents that contain that entire phrase.
- * at the end of a term signifies a prefix query. For instance: consult* will return search results for consult, consultation, consulting, consultant, etc.
- ( ) signifies precedence: Any phrase or term in () has a higher precedence than other terms or phrase. For instance: ("local community" + "contracts") | regional will produce search results where "local community" and "contracts" have high precedence over "regional".
- ~N after a word signifies edit distance (fuzziness), meaning the number of character changes that need to be made to one or more string to make it the same as another string. For instance: stabilisation~2 will produce search results for both "stabilisation", "stabilization" and other terms that have maximum two characters difference in their spelling from the search term.
- ~N after a phrase signifies slop amount, meaning how far apart terms are allowed to be while still considering the document a match. For instance: "local community"~2 returns search results where “local community” is a phrase, or where 1 or 2 words appear in between “local” and “community.”
The contracts on ResourceContracts.org are continually being annotated to make the content easier to understand and analyze. You can browse annotations for a particular contract by scrolling down the menu bar to the left of the contract you are viewing. You can also search for annotated terms across contracts by using the dropdown menu on the Search page.
The contracts are available in a variety of languages but annotations are only available in French, English or Spanish depending on the contract’s origin.
3. Is the content on ResourceContracts.org free to use?
All content on ResourceContracts.org including contracts, metadata and annotated content is freely available as open data under the license Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0.
4. Why are these contracts important?
Oil, gas, and mining contracts between governments and companies often define the parties’ respective rights and obligations, and allocate risk between them for the duration of the investment. These contracts are particularly important when the state party’s legal framework is underdeveloped. In such situations, contracts often either supplement or supplant the legal framework. Just like laws and regulations, contracts can affect a range of economic, operational, social, and environmental issues. For instance, they may set fiscal requirements, such as royalties and income tax rates, or fiscal benefits such as tax exemptions. They may also determine operational rights, such as the investor’s right to acquire additional land, build or use infrastructure, or obligations to grant third parties access to infrastructure. And while some contracts require investors to take certain measures to protect human rights or the environment, or to provide social benefits for employees or local communities, other contracts may facilitate investor actions that have negative social or environmental impacts, for example, by not placing restrictions on an investor’s use of or impact on water relied on by nearby communities. Although contracts are not the only relevant set of rules for governments and investors, they can be an important part of the legal framework governing an investment. In some countries only licenses are issued that implement well developed laws and regulations.
5. What types of contracts are included?
With the emergence of open contracting as a norm among governments and companies, an increasing number of contracts are becoming available to the public. ResourceContracts.org provides publicly available oil, gas, and mining contracts between host governments and investors for large-scale extractive industries projects, along with relevant associated documents that are referred to in those contracts. ResourceContracts.org currently includes the following types of agreements:
- Concession Agreements
- Production/ Profit Sharing Contracts
- Exploration Permits/ Licenses
- Exploitation Permits/ Licenses
- Investment Promotion Agreements
- Joint Venture Agreements
- Service Agreements
Several other minor types of agreements (e.g: strategic alliance agreements) are included in the “other” category.
The site does not post contracts signed between private companies. While these contracts can certainly be important for the accountability of the sector, they do not regulate the relationship between the companies and governments, which is the focus of this website.
6. How are contracts added and reviewed?
For a long time ResourceContracts.org had used a template to assist in summarizing the key terms of contracts, and to standardize the process. Since the site was upgraded, the site has transitioned to using a metadata and annotation guide in order for the user to directly work on the interface.
7. Does ResourceContracts.org explain whether a contract offers a good deal for the participating government?
No. This website contains contracts, as well as summaries of key terms, with no interpretation or analysis of those terms. This allows users to review the content of the contracts and to compare the terms of any contract with those in other contracts for the same country, or between countries. In order to evaluate whether the contract is fair the terms should be analyzed systematically in light of the context in which each contract was signed, and the broader legal framework relevant to the contract. For those interested in assessing contracts in this way, key aspects of the contract to be considered are:
- the fiscal terms (such as royalty amounts, tax incentives, tax holidays, profit sharing, how company costs are treated);
- the work and investment commitments of the company (if any);
- the government’s rights to monitor and audit the company’s operations;
- environmental and social obligations;
- local content obligations;
- stabilization clauses;
- governing law of the contract, and dispute resolution processes;
- the extent to which host country domestic legislation applies to the contract; and
- confidentiality requirements.
While it can be useful to compare the terms of a contract to other contracts in the same region, it is always important to keep in mind the particular circumstances in each host country.
This site includes several resources to help explain key contract terms, including Mining Contracts: How to read and understand them, as well as a Glossary of key terms and issues covered by extractive industries contracts.
A number of organizations also provide direct support to governments in the contract negotiation process, including planning and preparing for, negotiating, monitoring, and implementing investment projects; download a listing of technical support providers from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment’s Negotiation Support Portal.
8. How accurate are the summaries?
Contract summaries on ResourceContracts.org are meant to facilitate public understanding of important terms of the summarized documents. ResourceContracts.org strives to ensure that these serve as neutral summaries rather than interpretations of contractual language. ResourceContracts.org links its summaries to the original language in the contract, so that users can view and assess the contract themselves. Summaries should not be viewed as the interpretation of any contracting party. Moreover, neither the summaries nor the full contracts are complete accounts of all legal obligations related to the projects in question; both should be read in connection with applicable laws and regulations.
The summaries do not assess the legal status of the documents or any of their constituent elements, and no warranty is made regarding the thoroughness or accuracy of any content on this website, or of any documents or websites to which this site links. Should you notice any inaccuracies while using the site, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. How accurate are translated contracts?
Translated contracts available on ResourceContracts.org should not be considered official translations of legal documents. The summaries provided for such contracts are compiled using unofficial translations.
10. How accurate is the text version of each contract on the site?
In addition to PDF files of contracts, ResourceContracts.org provides a text version of uploaded contracts that is created automatically. When a new contract is uploaded to the site by the ResourceContracts.org team, it is processed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. For contracts that are unable to be processed by the OCR software, an online transcription service called Mechanical Turk is used. While such text will be of use to some users – for example, those who seek to search within contract text – the text may contain errors and differences from the contract’s original PDF file.
11. How complete are the contracts?
In some cases, contracts available on ResourceContracts.org may be missing pages or may refer to additional documents (Annexes, Amendments, etc.) that are missing from the site. We can only provide and summarize the information that is available to us, and users should be cautious in relying on the contracts listed on the site, as there may be other annexes, appendices, schedules, pages, or relevant documents that were not made public.
12. What if a contract has been canceled, terminated, or amended?
While ResourceContracts.org is updated regularly, the information provided on this site is inherently subject to change. In addition, contracts included in the repository may have subsequently been modified or terminated. When modifications have been made public, ResourceContracts.org endeavors to publish and summarize the modifications, so that users may assess for themselves the impact of the modifications. ResourceContracts.org provides access to contracts and their related documents in the original form in which they were made public. When contracts and amendments have been joined together in the same PDF, we summarize them together.
13. How do you decide which contracts to post?
ResourceContracts.org will upload any extractive industries contract or related document if it has been published or released in the public domain. For purposes of the foregoing, means of publication or release in the public domain include: (a) publication on a government website or in an official government publication; (b) publication on a contracting party’s company website or through its public filings; (c) government release in response to access to information requests; or (d) release online by a non-contracting party. On request, ResourceContracts.org will also work with host governments interested in making their contracts more accessible to develop dedicated, country-specific front-end websites. Further details regarding our posting policy and the criteria applied by ResourceContracts.org in selecting contracts to publish on the site are available here.
14. What is summarized in the "Stabilization" annotation?
As noted in the Glossary, a "stabilization clause" is a clause within a contract between an investor and a host state that addresses changes in the law of the host state during the life of the project. The purpose of a stabilization clause is to offer investors – and by extension their lenders – some assurance that the investment will not be subject to unpredictable and costly changes in law. However, stabilization clauses may also have negative impacts on the host country by, for example, reducing its ability to regulate certain investments in changing economic and political circumstances.
15. How should I cite ResourceContracts.org?
ResourceContracts.org. Natural Resource Governance Institute, the World Bank, and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment. Web. [Insert date of access].
16. How can I contribute?
This site is meant to serve as a public resource, with input from all groups interested in greater transparency in the extractive industries. If you know of contracts that should be included in this growing repository, or have other questions related to this effort, please do not hesitate to contact us at: email@example.com.
17. How to get involved?
If you have questions or comments about this website or the contracts included, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
18. Who created ResourceContracts.org?
This site was created by the World Bank, the Natural Resource Governance Institute, and the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, with contributions from partners in civil society, corporates, and multilateral donors. The project is supported by UK aid from the Department for International Development, and the African Legal Support Facility.
No warranty is made regarding the thoroughness or accuracy of any content on this website or of any documents or websites to which this site links. Should you notice any inaccuracies while using the site, please email email@example.com.