Understanding the Resource Curse

In most resource-rich countries, natural wealth does not translate into prosperity for the majority of inhabitants, but instead leads to environmental and economic devastation, and hampers democratic reform.

Only an informed public can hold leaders to account. Yet local reporting often overlooks the legal, economic, and environmental implications of resource extraction. Covering Oil: A Reporter's Guide to Energy and Development, a collaborative work of the Open Society Institute's Revenue Watch program and the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, aims to encourage rigorous reporting on these issues by providing practical information about the petroleum industry and the impact of resource wealth on a producing country.

The guidebook comes out of a series of workshops for journalists in the oil-exporting countries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Nigeria, during which participants expressed a need for more information to help them understand the issues surrounding resource exploitation. In response to these consultations, Covering Oil outlines the fundamentals of petroleum contracts, provides a glossary of relevant economic theory, and presents case studies of major public policy issues.

Covering Oil is the second in a series of Revenue Watch guidebooks targeting various audiences involved in the promotion of transparency and democratic accountability. The first, Follow the Money: A Guide to Monitoring Budgets and Oil and Gas Revenues, was aimed at nongovernmental organizations.