Consultancy: Scoping Study of Distributed Ledger Technologies for Extractives Transparency and Accountability

Job Type

Full Time Temporary Contract





Start Date:


Application Deadline:



District of Columbia
United States


Background/NRGI Summary: The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) is a nonprofit policy institute and grant-making organization that promotes the responsible management of oil, gas and mineral resources for the benefit of all. Improving natural resource governance is one of the most significant development challenges of the decade and will determine the future of 1 billion people globally who live in scarcity in the midst of resource abundance. Countries with non-renewable resource wealth face both a challenge and an opportunity—when used poorly or squandered, non-renewable resource wealth can cause economic instability, social conflict, and lasting environmental impacts; used well, they can create prosperity for current and future generations. NRGI is a recognized leader in the field of natural resource governance, helping people to realize the benefits of their countries’ endowments of oil, gas, and minerals in order to build a more stable and sustainable future. For more information, please visit

Project Overview/Summary:

NRGI seeks to commission a scoping study to explore how distributed ledger technologies (DLT), including blockchain, could create opportunities for enhancement or pose risks for backsliding in governance across the extractives decision chain, especially with respect to transparency and accountability objectives. The study will examine the areas where DLT-based systems could lead to improvements and/or retractions in natural resource governance areas, such as oil, gas and mining licensing and contracting, beneficial ownership screening, natural resources license management; collection of royalties, taxes, and other types of natural resource-derived public revenues; and extractives-related trading, financial system, and supply chain management.

DLTs have been identified as a frontier area by companies, thought leaders and governments, with DLT land registers currently being implemented in countries such as Georgia and Honduras and DLT based commodity trading pilots being tested among major trading houses. However, until now, only limited research has been done on the potential implications for extractives sector governance from the introduction of DLT systems in the sector. 

Major Responsibilities:

The goal of the scoping study will be to provide findings and recommendations about the scope of application of DLTs to the resource governance field. The study will provide input to NRGI’s work in this emerging area both through research generated at NRGI and in NRGI’s engagement with stakeholders globally and in resource-rich countries. It shall seek to generate new knowledge as a contribution to the field on the state of play of DLTs in the extractives and offer suggestions for areas of further research on the implication of DLTs in extractives governance globally and at a country level. Additionally, the study should provide initial guidance to assist actors within the resource governance space on whether DLT solutions can help or hinder their specific challenges.


For the study, the consultant or project team, will assess the current state of research on, and application of, DLTs and how DLTs could potentially be deployed to influence government (national & international), civil society, and corporate governance functions in the extractives sector. This will be done through a comprehensive literature review and expert interviews which will seek to gain insights into the state of DLT application in this sector. The literature review will have a particular focus on examples of actual implementation of experimental DLT projects in the extractives space since knowledge sharing from pilot studies and full-scale implementations have until now remained rare. The interviews will be carried out with experts at the intersection of DLT and extractives governance from international development banks, the DLT start-up community, civil society, governance organizations, think tanks, and extractives companies already considering using or currently piloting DLT.

Specifically, the consultant / project team will examine 3-4 cases of early-stage DLT implementations within the extractives sector to establish concrete evidence of how DLT is being developed and to strengthen the understanding of the potential impact on extractives governance. NRGI has identified the following areas for potential exploration as part of the study: 

  • Licensing and land management: Beyond extractives, one of the most mature areas of DLT implementation has been in land registries for property rights where DLT is expected to strengthen provenance of land registries. (Various types of DLT based land registries have to date been announced at least in Sweden, Honduras and Giorgia. ) It is therefore relevant to consider how mining, oil, and gas licensing might be impacted by DLT implementations to strengthen land property management - particularly in countries where multiple government agencies may be involved in authorizing land use (eg. ministry of mines, the ministry of forestry, local governments).
  • Commodity trading: Parts of the commodity trading market is today shaped by incomplete information and lack of provenance of traded goods and some actors in the industry anticipate that DLT could impact the provenance of goods traded and thereby impact risks. 
  • Improved identification of companies: In light of the emerging norm of beneficial ownership transparency and taxation tracking of extractives companies, interest in DLT-systems have centered on their potential of improving tracking of company data. In this context, it will also be relevant to explore how the privacy options of DLT systems might impact implementations of transparency initiatives in resource-rich countries. 
  • Smart contracts: The extractives sector across IOCs and NOCs are engaged in managing extensive supply chains through a variety of contracting processes. The rapid development of smart contracting as an area of adoption of DLT across sectors may impact supply chain management in the extractives sector. 
  • Disclosures and global transparency: Disclosure regulations passed in the European Union, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland provide varying degrees of compatible disclosures. Following recent introductions of standardized disclosure practices at security exchanges, researchers have suggested that the introduction of DLT based company submissions either in real-time or in bulk format could impact the data quality and compliance of submissions.

Content of the scoping study

The consultant / project team will lead the design, research and drafting of the scoping study and facilitate a one-day workshop to explore the area with a selected group of DLT and extractives governance experts.

For the consultant / project team the following deliverables are requested:

  • Conduct a thorough literature review of the field of DLT use cases that relate to the extractives sector.
  • Review 3-4 existing pilot initiatives of DLT in the extractives sector which are currently underway across, for example, licensing and land management, smart contracts or commodity trading. Examine DLT systems which have already been developed to feed data and utilized operationally to establish an understanding of early lessons learned. Examine how these cases may impact extractives governance.
  • Examine possible limitations or barriers to implementation of DLTs by resource-rich country governments, and provide an initial assessment of the types of reforms that would be needed to address such obstacles.
  • Examine if global transparency initiatives (like EITI, OGP and OCP) could benefit from DLT systems in country implementations for example in connection with licensing, open contracting, beneficial ownership, and tracking of national and subnational revenue flows?
  • Explore 1-2 examples of potential new implementation scenarios for DLT technologies in resource-rich countries to understand how these might be implemented and to examine how these cases may impact extractives governance.
  • Plan and facilitate a one-day workshop in Washington D.C. to discuss preliminary findings and recommendations with experts in the field.
  • Facilitate stakeholder consultation calls with NRGI’s project reference group (remote).
  • Report on a regular basis to NRGI project lead.
  • Deliver a brown bag presentation to present the result of the study to NRGI staff (remote)

Schedule of deliverables:

The consultant / project team will produce the following deliverables through the various project phases:

Phase 1: Methodology and study design

  • Literature review
  • A selection of cases for in-depth research
  • A list of proposed people to interview
  • A proposed outline for the report

Phase 2: First draft report

  • Completed overview of DLT in the sector
  • Completed case studies
  • A proposed outline for the DLT workshop
  • Facilitation of workshop on DLT in extractives
  • Provide input on attendees and speakers
  • Design preparation materials to frame the workshop - 2-pager
  • Lead the design of an interactive agenda with a combination of speakers with practical implementation experience.
  • Lead the discussion and group-focused engagements.

(NRGI will manage operational arrangements for the workshop including venue and travel arrangements) 

Phase 3: Final report

  • Include feedback from NRGI from the first draft of the report and as well as discussion points from the workshop;
  • Refine the report content building on input from the DLT workshop;
  • Summarize key points, presentations, and discussions from the DLT workshop;
  • Submit recommendations to the research and data team as well as to the broader management of NRGI on potential next steps for NRGI in this work 

Disbursement schedule

The consultant / project team will be engaged from early March until the 30 June 2018 with opportunity for extension. Payments will be made in installments upon submission of satisfactory deliverables as follows:

  • Outline of mythology and study design - 20%
  • First draft report – 30%
  • Facilitation of DLT in extractives workshop - 20%
  • Final Report – 30%

Key Working Relationships:

Consultant / project team reports to: Senior Open Data Officer

Indirect Reporting:

Internal: Director of Research and Data

Requested qualifications for the consultant, firm or organization:

  • Experience with DLTs from either civil society, government or the private sector
  • Think tank, civil society organization or individual researcher experience
  • Proven track record of qualitative research design analysis and report writing
  • Experience with interactive workshop facilitation preferred, but not essential
  • Experience with governance issues in the extractive sectors of oil, gas, and mining preferred, but not essential  

Alignment with NRGI Culture and Mission:

All consultants and members of the project team uphold the following organization-wide culture and values:

  • Commitment to furthering NRGI’s mission and core values of integrity, intellectual rigor, respect for evidence, innovation, strategic selectivity, and independence.
  • Demonstrated ability to be a professional, productive member of a diverse community of people at work, working toward shared goals, with mutual respect and accountability in a fast-paced environment.
  • Personal qualities of capacity for learning, reflection and self-criticism, humility and sense of humor.



The agreement will not exceed $25,000. This amount does not include costs for international phone calls or travel costs for the consultant / project team to attend the DLT workshop in Washington DC, which will be covered separately. The consultant / project team is responsible for regular business expenses in conjunction with this assignment (internet connection, mobile phone, local transit, health insurance etc.)

Level of Language Proficiency


Professional Level


Minimum Education Required

4-year degree

How To Apply

Expression of Interest:

The deadline for submission of Expression of Interest is 7 March 2018. 

NRGI will consider an expression of interest from individual consultants, firms or organizations (including non-profits). 

1. Please submit CVs for all project team members and 300 word Expression of Interest including day rate of the project team.