Gas production deals were untouched, although the US, EU, UK and Canada imposed a number of sanctions on sources of income for the Burmese military for almost a year since the 1 February military coup in Myanmar.
TotalÉnergies of France and the US’ Chevron Oil have announced their withdrawal from Myanmar. The two companies hold major stakes in the petroleum-rich Yadana gas fields of Myanmar.
The two companies have come for criticism for doing business with Myanmar’s ruling junta that has been accused by rights group for brutalities against its own citizens. Rights groups feel that the oil and gas companies have been complicit in propping up the violent regime.
Total and Chevron have become the latest Western corporations to exit the country after the February 2021 coup by the military.
Citing the steady erosion of human rights and “more generally the rule of law,”
Total released a statement saying that financial considerations were not crucial in this matter. It said that its Myanmar operations generated less than one per cent of its annual revenues.
Chevron too said that it had “reviewed” its interest in the Yadana natural gas project.
Rohingya groups had questioned US and France
The announcements have come with resounding political notes. Last week, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) had said that the continuance of the two companies work in the military-ruled country was putting a question mark on the policy to protect the profits of American and French companies. BROUK, an umbrella group of Rohingya rights organizations, had pleaded for this to change urgently. They had urged on the Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron to impose sanctions on gas revenue in Myanmar, arguing that the money earned from the trade of Myanmar’s natural resources helped pay for the Myanmar military’s crimes.
BROUK said that gas production deals were untouched, although the US, EU, UK and Canada imposed a number of sanctions on sources of income for the Burmese military for almost a year since the 1 February military coup in Myanmar. Gas production, the Mynmar-refugee group sai, is one of the military’s biggest revenue sources.
For instance, Total and the military-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) hold stakes in Moattama Gas Transportation Company (MGTC) which carries gas from the Yadana gas field, 60 kilometres off Myanmar’s south-western coast in the Andaman Sea to the country’s border along Thailand.
Crimes against humanity
Western rights groups are less than impressed by Total and Chevron’s exits. Environmental law non-profit EarthRights International said in a release, “Since the beginning of the coup, Total and Chevron have facilitated the transfer of around half a billion US dollars in revenue payments to the military junta.”
These payments are the military’s largest source of foreign funds and fuel its human rights atrocities.”
EarthRights said that these actions follow “many months after international observers highlighted that crimes against humanity were taking place.
Total and Chevron will remain complicit for as long as they make or facilitate payments to accounts controlled by the junta.”
TotalÉnergies holds the biggest stake (31.24%) in Yadana.
Wikimedia Image: Student Union and teachers protest against military coup in front of state government office on 9 February 2021
Picture by: Ninjastrikers