French oil and gas group Total and US energy company Chevron have suspended some payments from a gas joint venture that would have reached Myanmar’s junta, earning praise from pro-democracy activists for taking an important first step.
International companies doing business in the country have come under pressure from rights groups and Myanmar’s parallel civilian government to review their operations to stop payments flowing to a military government that seized 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 nationwide in support of the ousted civilian administration.
In a statement, Total said: “In light of the unstable context in Myanmar” after a joint proposal with Chevron shareholders at the meeting of the Moattama Gas Transportation Company voted to suspend all cash distributions. Total is the biggest shareholder with 31.24 per cent, while Chevron holds 28 per cent. Thailand’s PTTEP and Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise hold the remainder.
“Total condemns the violence and human rights abuses occurring in Myanmar and reaffirms that it will comply with any decision that may be taken by the relevant international and national authorities, including applicable sanctions issued by the EU or the US authorities,” the statement said. Chevron in a statement said: “The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar requires a collective response to improve the welfare of the people of Myanmar.”