Purpose – The purpose of this paper is illuminate the way in which key constituents have influenced the process of setting an International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) for the extractive industries. Design/methodology/approach – Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is used to identify some of the key players involved in the international accounting standard setting process for the extractive industries, analyse their discourse and its implications, and assess the outcomes. A case study of one international accounting firm, one global petroleum corporation, and one petroleum industry lobby group was used to provide a cross-section of key players and explicate their influence on the international accounting standard setting process. Findings – CDA made visible the coalitions between powerful players and their impact on the eventual IFRS for the extractive industries. Evidence indicates that the setting of an IFRS for the extractive industries is merely a codification of the existing practice of powerful constituents. Research implications – As a research method, CDA has the potential not only to uncover the social practice and public discourse of accounting standard setting, but also to expose the discourse practice underlying the process. While this research has focused only one industry, there is potential to extend the scope within the extractive industries or in the broader international standard setting process. Originality/value – While it is well accepted that the accounting standard setting process is political, this research demonstrates the usefulness of CDA for providing concrete evidence of the source, nature and effect of this politicisation within the extractive industries.