Course in auditing oil contracts gets off to flying start

A new online course designed by the Netherlands Court of Audit to help national auditors around the world examine how their governments deal with oil and gas contracts, has got off to a flying start. A total of 60 auditors have now attended the course, either in full or in part, since its launch in June. Today, 14 September, the Netherlands Court of Audit is launching Arabic and French versions of the course.

“The course helps to bridge a potential audit gap in audits of oil and gas revenue,” explains Vice-President Ewout Irrgang. “Starting an online course during a global lockdown has proved to be an excellent idea.”

“The fact is that oil companies are not only well-informed, they’re also very good at doing their homework. By undertaking thorough audits, supreme audit institutions in oil- and gas-producing countries can encourage their national governments to remain alert in sticking to their contractual agreements while at the same time protecting the public interest.”

Latin America

Project Manager Marike Noordhoek of the Court’s International Affairs department is brimming with enthusiasm. “The course is a great way of giving national auditors from other countries access to a huge pool of knowledge and expertise. During the first two months since the launch, auditors from 20 different countries have attended one or more modules from this public course, which consists of four modules.”

“A total of 18 auditors have now completed the full course. Interestingly, Ecuador is one of the countries where there has been a lot of interest. Another is Argentina, where we have seen a number of auditors sign up. This has been particularly pleasing to see, given that we do not yet have a history of close contacts with national audit offices in Latin America.”

African project

The course is the result of an international project in which the Netherlands Court of Audit worked together with national audit offices in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania. AFROSAI-E, the regional umbrella organisation for Anglophone audit institutions in Africa, was also a partner in this project, which ran from 2018 to 2020. It was designed to raise the quality of performance audits in the three countries, whose governments have all signed oil- and gas-production contracts with big oil companies. Funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project revolved around building up audit capacity and knowledge-sharing.

Positive response

The responses from course participants have made clear that the course not only helps them to gain more in-depth general knowledge of contracts between governments and oil companies, but also raises their awareness of how SAIs can keep a check on the actions of their national governments.

INTOSAI, the international organisation of supreme audit institutions, is promoting the online course among its members. The organisation’s African branch, AFROSAI-E, is distributing the course on its own platform, where it is available for interested parties from all over the world. The Arabic and French versions of the course will be available on the same platform, alongside the English version.

For further information on the online course, which is entitled ‘How to audit government performance in managing oil and gas contracts’, visit: Afrosai-e-learning.