TotalEnergies and Chevron, two of the world’s largest energy conglomerates, halt all operations in Myanmar
The announcement comes just a day after the French company called for international sanctions targeting the oil and gas sector, which remains one of the main sources of funding for the military government.
Total and Chevron had come under increasing pressure over their role in operating the Yadana offshore gas field and Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production. Total owns a majority stake in the company and manages its day-to-day operations, while MOGE collects revenue on behalf of the government.
“Since the February 1 coup, we have seen the evolution of the country and it is clearly not favorable: the situation of the rule of law and human rights in Myanmar has clearly deteriorated over the months and despite civil disobedience movements, the junta has continued to be in power and our analysis is that this is unfortunately for the long term,” Total said.
Since taking power, the army has brutally suppressed dissent, kidnapping young men and boys, killing health care workers and torturing prisoners.
Total said it would withdraw without financial compensation and cede its interests to other stakeholders.
Around 50% of Myanmar’s foreign exchange comes from natural gas revenues, with the MOGE expected to earn $1.5 billion from offshore and pipeline projects in 2021-22, according to Myanmar government forecasts. Previous rounds of US and EU sanctions against Myanmar’s military have excluded oil and gas.
In a statement released shortly after Total’s announcement, Chevron said it also planned to leave “in light of the circumstances.” The company condemned the human rights abuses and said it would comply with any international sanctions.
Myanmar-based human rights group Blood Money Campaign called on companies to ensure that future payments are made to accounts inaccessible to the military and to “stop treating the criminal junta as a legitimate government”.
Human Rights Watch welcomed the decision.
“The next step is to ensure that gas revenues do not continue to fund these atrocities,” said Ken Roth, the organization’s executive director.
Associated Press writers Elaine Kurtenbach in Bangkok, Victoria Milko in Jakarta, Indonesia and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.