25.01.12 Yemen Focus
Nexen denies Yemen bribery claims
Canadian oil and gas explorer Nexen has denied claims that it sought to bribe officials in Yemen over oil and gas
The rumours surfaced last week in the Yemen Post, which alleged that officials from Nexen attempted to pay Yemeni officials
within the Petroleum Exploration & Production Authority and the Oil Ministry in order to secure continued access to Block 14. The company has operated the
block for almost twenty years, but was forced to hand over control in December
to PetroMasila, a new national oil company.
Nexen lobbied hard to renew its licence, which was in doubt for some time;
however, the decline in Yemen's security and political situation led to doubts
it could sustain its operations. The Cabinet decided in November that it could
secure more desperately-needed revenue through a national oil company than
Yemeni employees at Nexen claimed to media that bribery was commonly used as a
way to secure contracts and proposals with the government. According to the
allegations on the Block 14 extension, the company offered millions of dollars
well as a share of profits in exchange for a renewal of its licence.
The company strenuously denies the allegations. “We have one of the most robust integrity monitoring processes in the industry”, said spokesman Pierre Alvarez. “We operate by international standards as well as ours, that exceed any
industry-wide standards out there.” Nexen is generally considered to have extremely robust anti-corruption
A global anti-corruption watchdog, TRACE International, has pointed out that it is unusual that the allegations have been made from
inside Yemen, where anti-corruption efforts are weak and investigative
under-developed. TRACE president Alexandra Wrage suggested that Nexen may have been named as a scapegoat by the media, which has
close ties with the government, in order to advance domestic political goals.
Sources: Yemen Post, Wall Street Journal, Calgary Herald
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