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January 21, 2022

Oil majors withdraw from Yadana gas field over human rights concerns

The news comes as nations are facing increasing pressure from human rights groups to impose sanctions against Myanmar’s junta.

By Scarlett Evans

TotalEnergies and Chevron have today announced their decision to withdraw from the Yadana gas field off the coast of Myanmar, which has been in operation since 1998. The decision comes as the energy majors have seen mounting pressure to curb payments from gas operations to the nation’s junta group, whose violent methods have been labelled crimes against humanity.  

In a press release, TotalEnergies said: “The situation, in terms of human rights and more generally the rule of law, which have kept worsening in Myanmar since the coup of February 2021, has led us to reassess the situation and no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in the country.” 

A Chevron spokesperson told Reuters“In light of circumstances in Myanmar, we have reviewed our interest in the Yadana natural gas project to enable a planned and orderly transition that will lead to an exit from the country.” . 

Myanmar has been in political upheaval since the coup, where the army overthrew the government and further protests were met with violent clampdown, with more than 1,400 people killed so far in the clashes. 

Sanctions against the country have been building as other nations attempt to limit funds going back to  junta-controlled companies, and earlier this week TotalEnergies wrote a letter to rights group Human Rights Watch saying that it supported the imposition of sanctions on payments to the junta through its gas operations. The energy major has also called on the French Government to impose a legal framework for these targeted sanctions. 

In the latest update however, TotalEnergies has said that the sanctions are not enough to “meet the expectations of many stakeholders” and has tendered its complete withdrawal from the field as both operator and shareholder without any financial compensation.  

The Yadana gas field produces around six billion cubic metres of gas per year, with revenues from the site paid to the junta-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). Since the coup, nations including the USCanada, and the UK have imposed targeted economic sanctions on junta leaders or junta-owned companies, but not yet on MOGE or payments it receives. 

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