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Accounting for Extractive Industries: Has IFRS 6 Harmonised Accounting Practices by Extractive Industries?

Australian Accounting Review

Published online on


Accounting for extractive industries has historically been practiced by one of a number of methods: successful efforts, full costing, area of interest, appropriation and reserve recognition accounting. The choice of method adopted leads to different accounting figures. The difference in the treatment of the costs leads to different accounting figures being reported in the financial statements of extractive companies. This means that the ‘tell it like it is’ criteria of accounting functions differently, so that stakeholders find like‐with‐like comparisons for decision‐making purposes difficult. These difficulties have culminated in the release of IFRS 6 Exploration for and Evaluation of Mineral Resources, to help harmonise accounting practice. This paper, through content analysis of annual reports of 122 upstream oil and gas companies from around the world, investigates the role of IFRS 6 in harmonising extractive industries’ accounting practices. Our analysis identifies seven types of company, which differ in their compliance with IFRS 6. Hence, we conclude that IFRS 6 has had some success in harmonising accounting treatments of exploration and evaluation expense but that this success is limited and more needs to be done to achieve wider harmonisation for the extractive industries.