zaterdag 6 juli 2013

Linked by oil company Jubilant Energy; Dutch tax and Indian conflict

This month the well informed Jane's Intelligence Review published the article 'Path to prosperity; Insurgency stifles development in northeast India'. It is the result of a survey by the Country Risk Analysis and Forecasting Team (CRAFT) of IHS, the publisher of Jane's. In the article we are informed that: “Starved of energy resources, the Indian government granted exploration rights to a Dutch oil company, Jubilant Energy, for two oil blocks in Manipur in September and November 2010. With Manipur estimated to have deposits of around five trillion cubic feet of oil, further contracts are likely to be agreed in the near future.”

Manipur is a provice in the north east of India is suffering from internal conflict and a high level of insurgency activity by armed opposition. There is widespread opposition against oil drilling activities in the region, amongst others because the exploitation is against government promises for grass roots economic development in the region.

CRAFT spells out the motives behind those protests: “Most importantly, the oil exploration activities are widely perceived in Manipur as ignorant of local ownership structures, which has the potential to exacerbate the competing claims over territory. There are now significant civil society movements against these oil exploration activities, while several non-state armed groups have issued statements on the issue. For example, the KNA [local armed group: Kuki National Army, MB] declared on 28 January that it would oppose oil exploration activities in the Tamenglong and Churachandpur districts, which it claims are part of its ancestral land.”

The internet is loaded with articles complaining about the drilling in Manipur. E.g. the Committee on the Protection of Natural Resources in Manipur urged the state government to respect the wishes and sentiments of indigenous peoples against oil exploration and also to respect their rights over their land, natural resources and allow them to determine their own future.

It is interesting that oil company Jubilant Energy is based in Amsterdam. So far, Dutch involvement is unknown in The Netherlands. No wonder; Jubilant Energy is based at on the Orlyplein 10 in Amsterdam, an address which houses over three hundred companies. In fact, these companies head quarters are not much more than mail boxes. Often there is no personnel whatsoever; it is only an administrative establishment, based in Amsterdam because of the corporation-friendly Dutch tax climate, which enables companies to evade taxes in the countries where they actually operate. A method widely published during the past months. According to the chamber of commerce of Amsterdam, Jubilant Energy has three entities in one building on Orlyplein 10: Jubilant Energy International B.V., Jubilant Energy (Holding) B.V., and Jubilant Energy N.V.

For an oil company, Jubilant is small. Between March 2012 and March 2013 it had a sales volume of seven hundred thousand barrels, revenues were a moderate € 13.8 million. The company mainly operates in India and Australia, although its website shows only the mailbox contact address in the Netherlands. Juridically at least, Jane's Intelligence Review is right in calling it a Dutch company. This raises the question if the Netherlands has any control over its activities in conflict ridden Manipur. Makes being a tax haven the Netherlands ethical or juridical responsible for Jubilant Energy's activities?

Martin Broek
reseacher on military affairs and arms trade related issues Dutch version