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    Human Rights Watch lauds gas revenue disruptions in Myanmar


The revenue is funding the military-led government’s aggressive campaign against dissidents.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Asia/Oceania, Corporate, Financials, Political, News By Country, Burma

Human Rights Watch lauds gas revenue disruptions in Myanmar

Human Rights Watch said May 28 that governments and energy companies should follow the lead of US Chevron and French TotalEnergies (TE) and halt payments to the military-led government in Myanmar.

TE said May 26 that all cash distributions to shareholders at Myanmar’s Moattama Gas Transportation Company (MGTC) have been suspended. The company acted in the wake of a joint proposal it put forward with US major Chevron earlier this month at the annual meeting of MGTC.

TE, Chevron and Thailand’s state-owned PTTEP have come under increasing pressure over MGTC’s perceived support of the military junta in Myanmar, which is reported to have killed more than 700 dissidents, including 47 children, since it overthrew the Myanmar government in February.

John Sifton, the advocacy director for Asian programs at Human Rights Watch, said the decision was welcomed, but more was needed as it impacts only about 5% of the natural gas revenue for the military leadership in Myanmar.

“To have real impact, governments and companies need to go further to stop the junta from receiving funds or accessing bank accounts that receive payments,” he said.

TE and Chevron collectively have a majority stake in MGTC, while the government-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas and Thailand’s state-owned energy company share a minority interest.

Both Total and Chevron issued statements critical of the military regime, condemning its human rights violations and various abuses as leading to their decision to suspend cash distributions.

Last week, US president Joe Biden imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s military-led state administrative council, an entity the administration said was created to support the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Myanmar.

The European Union (EU), the UK and Canada have also imposed sanctions on members of the military regime, conglomerates owned by Myanmar's military and on industries from which military leaders draw profits.

“If governments effectively sanction or suspend the natural gas revenue generated for the military junta, it will lose $1 billion a year being used to hurt Myanmar’s people,” Sifton said. “That kind of economic impact could put real pressure on the military to stop its brutal repression and return the country to a democratic path.”

Total rebranded itself as TotalEnergies May 28. CEO Patrick Pouyanne set out his company's dilemma over its investment in the country in a statement early April. The offshore Yadana field, which it operates, supplies gas to the former capital and largest city Yangon and also to Thailand.