French energy giant stops paying in Burmese pipeline


Shareholders of Bangkok-France energy company Total have resolved to stop paying dividends to stakeholders in a joint venture operating a gas pipeline in Burma, the company said Wednesday.

After the February 1 coup, there is increasing pressure on companies doing investment or business related to the Burmese (also known as Myanmar) military to suspend financial support. Part of the Yadana Pipeline is owned by the Myanmar Oil and Gas Company, a government-controlled entity.

Total said in a statement that shareholders of Moatama Gas Transport Co., Ltd. (MGTC), which operates the Yadana Pipeline, made a decision at a meeting held on May 12.

He said the decision was in response to proposals from Total and US energy company Chevron, “in light of Myanmar’s instability.”

It said the decision came into effect retroactively from April 1. “All cash distributions to shareholders by MGTC (total (31.24%), chevron (28.26%), PTTEP (25.5%), MOGE (15%)) have been suspended,” he said. PTTEP is a Thai company.

Total still operates the pipeline, but said it has stabilized the gas supply “so as not to interfere with the essential power supply for locals in Myanmar and Thailand.” The company said it needed to protect workers from the effects of any move to shut down its business in the country.

Justice for Myanmar, a human rights group, said that the suspension of dividends is part of the money paid to the government from the pipeline, which includes the government’s share of millions of taxes, loyalty, and gas revenues. Said.

Yadana is just one of Burma’s three major offshore gas projects. Total Exploration & Production Myanmar’s 400 km (250 miles) Yadana pipeline transports gas from oil fields off the southern coast of Burma to Thailand.

The company reiterated that it “condemns the violence and human rights abuses that have occurred in Myanmar.” It said it would follow the decisions of international and national authorities, including sanctions.

Burmese troops have imposed increasingly violent crackdowns on large-scale protests against coups and widespread civil disobedience. More than 825 people were killed (more than double the government’s tally), according to the Political Prisoners Support Association, a watchdog that monitors arrests and deaths.

The US, Canadian, British, and other European governments have released hundreds of people arrested by Junta and imposed sanctions to revive Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government. However, such actions were of limited effect, as they targeted domestic military-dominated companies and overseas travel, as well as the assets of military junta leaders, the military and their families.

In particular, military junta critics have urged many companies to withdraw or suspend payments that may support Burmese troops with vast holdings that dominate the economy.

This includes banks that work with military companies or provide loans to companies that pay rent, and pension funds that are invested in dozens of companies.

By Elaine Kurtenbach