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    Total CEO explains the company's 'dilemmas' in Myanmar

Summary

Yadana has to keep flowing gas but Total will contribute to local human rights groups, said CEO Patrick Pouyanne.

by: William Powell

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Total CEO explains the company's 'dilemmas' in Myanmar

The CEO of French energy company Total, Patrick Pouyanne, said in an April 4 letter on LinkedIn that work stopped on its gas discovery in Myanmar's A6 block "as soon as the current crisis began" and "it goes without saying that we do not intend to invest further." 

However, the company intends to keep flowing gas from what remains of its business in Myanmar, the offshore Yadana field; and with the gas, it will keep paying taxes, as not to do so would be criminal as well as expose staff to the risk of arrest or forced labour on the platform.

A military coup ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's government on February 1, which Total has condemned. Yadana supplies gas to Thailand and to Myanmar's largest city Yangon, where it is used for power generation for half the city's inhabitants. Humans are entitled to energy, Pouyanne said. Thailand had also appealed to Total to keep the gas flowing.

If the company decided to stop production then there was the risk of forced labour, such as the army had applied in other similar situations.

"Resolving these dilemmas by a simplistic solution at the expense of our local employees and the Myanmar population which is already suffering is not the choice I have made," Pouyanne said. "I am today deciding to donate to associations working towards human rights in Myanmar the equivalent of the taxes that we will effectively have to pay to the Myanmar government." He said that was about $4mn/month.

Total operates Yadana with partners US major Chevron, Thailand’s PTT and state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise.