The French oil and gas group Total and the American energy company Chevron suspended some payments for a gas joint venture that would have reached the Myanmar board, earning praise from pro-democracy activists for giving an important first step. International companies doing business in the country have come under pressure from human rights groups and Myanmar’s parallel civilian government to review their operations to stop the flow of payments to a military government that took power on February 1.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the army overthrew the elected government and detained its leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the junta has responded with brutal force to daily protests, marches, and strikes across the country in support of the overthrown civil administration. . In a statement, Total said “in light of the unstable context in Myanmar” after a joint proposal with Chevron shareholders at the Moattama Gas Transportation Company meeting voted to suspend all cash distributions.
Total is the largest shareholder with 31.24%, while Chevron has 28%. Thailand’s PTTEP and Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise have the rest. “Total condemns the violence and human rights abuses occurring in Myanmar and reaffirms that it will comply with any decisions that may be taken by the relevant international and national authorities, including any applicable sanctions issued by the EU or US authorities,” the statement said. . Chevron in a statement said: “The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar requires a collective response to improve the well-being of the people of Myanmar.”
The US company also said: “Any action must be carefully considered to ensure that the people of Myanmar are not further harmed by the unpredictable and unintended consequences of well-intentioned decisions.” Justice for Myanmar, a group of activists, welcomed the decision to suspend the payment of dividends, which it said would curb a source of income for the board.
“But we note that this is only a small part of the revenue the board receives from Total’s operations in Myanmar, which also includes the state’s share of gas revenue, royalties and corporate income taxes.” Justice For Myanmar spokesman Yadanar Maung said in a statement.
Located off the southwest coast of Myanmar in the Gulf of Martaban, the Yadana fields produce gas for distribution to power plants in Thailand. They also supply Myanmar’s domestic market through an offshore pipeline built and operated by the state-owned energy company Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise. Total said it continues to maintain production from the Yadana gas field “so as not to interrupt the supply of electricity that is vital for the local populations of Myanmar and Thailand.”