TotalEnergies Exits Myanmar Citing Human Rights Violations, Shareholder Pressure
Energy company TotalEnergies announced today plans to fully withdraw from Myanmar, citing a worsening human rights violations in the country and pressure from shareholders and other stakeholders.
Following a coup in early 2021 in the Southeast Asian nation, which saw the military seize control from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, leading to thousands of deaths and arrests, TotalEnergies halted all of its ongoing projects in the country. The company continued to produce gas from the Yadana gas field, along with partners Chevron, Thai national energy company PTT and Myanmar state-owned company MOGE, which holds a 15% interest.
The Yadana gas project supplies electricity for roughly half the population of Myanmar’s largest city Yangon, and to Thailand as well, presenting global energy companies like TotalEnergies and Chevron with a dilemma, as shutting down the project could lead to a further deterioration in the situation for the population in Yangon, while its continued operation provides revenue to the state through MOGE. TotalEnergies said that it approached the French government in an attempt to put in place sanctions confining financial flows from the project to escrow accounts, though the company has not been able to find a means to do so.
In a statement on the company’s website, TotalEnergies said that it has faced pressure from stakeholders including shareholders, international and Burmese civil society organisations to stop the revenues going to the state through MOGE. As the human rights situation has further deteriorated since the coup, the company said that it has now decided to move forward to withdraw as both operator and shareholder from the Yadana field and from the MGTC gas transportation system.
In the statement, TotalEnergies said:
“While our Company considers that its presence in a country allows it to promote its values, including outside its direct sphere of operations, 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.”