Chevron, Burma’s total exit over the deterioration of human rights

Paris — Two of the world’s largest energy companies, Total Energies and Chevron, said Friday they would leave Burma (also known as Myanmar).

The announcement came the day after a French company demanded international sanctions on the oil and gas sector, one of the main sources of funding for the military regime. It also comes a month after the Associated Press talks about rising oil and gas sanctions on both companies and resistance from the United States and France.

Total and Chevron, along with the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) and PTT Exploration & Production in Thailand, were under increasing pressure on their role in the operation of the Yadana offshore gas field. Total owns a majority stake in the venture and does day-to-day operations, while MOGE raises income on behalf of the government.

Total said he expects the departure to be completed within six months. Chebon did not give a time frame for what he described as “a planned and orderly transition leading to withdrawal from the country.”

“The rule of law and human rights in Myanmar has clearly deteriorated in a few months, and despite the civil disobedience movement, the junta remains in power, unfortunately long-term in our analysis. There is, “total said.

Since the acquisition, the military has brutally cracked down on objections, the kidnapping of young men and boys, the killing of medical workers, and the torture of prisoners.

A former Burmese employee who campaigned against the company’s relationship with the junta admitted that it would be difficult to find a job elsewhere, but was shocked but happy with the decision. Stated.

“For employees who are still working in total, it’s bad news to oppose the dictatorship or fight the army, but for me as an ordinary person, not an employee, I think it’s great news. She told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because she was afraid of retaliation from the government.

Total said it would withdraw without financial compensation and hand over its profits to other stakeholders.

The Burmese government predicts that about 50% of Burma’s foreign currency will come from natural gas revenues, and MOGE is expected to earn $ 1.5 billion from offshore and pipeline projects between 2021 and 2022. Earlier rounds of US and European sanctions on Burmese troops excluded oil and gas. The Yadana oil field supplies gas to Burma and neighboring Thailand.

In a statement issued shortly after the announcement of the total, Chevron also said he was planning to leave “in the light of the situation.” The company condemned human rights abuses and said it would comply with international sanctions.

Human Rights Watch welcomed the decision.

“The next step is to ensure that gas revenues don’t continue to fund these atrocities,” said Ken Ross, executive director of the organization.

PTT Exploration & Production, a Thai company, said it is considering options with a priority on “prioritizing energy security in Thailand and Myanmar and preventing the impact on energy demand on the lives of people in both countries”. rice field.

The Yadana oil field is expected to be depleted in the next few years and is nearing the end of operations. Both companies had previously stopped paying dividends for the Burma project. However, that decision had a limited impact on the income sent to MOGE or military-controlled governments.

Lori Hinant

Associated Press