Following the February 1, 2021, coup in Myanmar, TotalEnergies said it has firmly condemned on several occasions the abuses and human rights violations taking place there. The company said since then its decisions have been guided by clear principles: to halt all its ongoing projects, but to continue to produce gas from the Yadana field, which is essential for supplying electricity to the local Burmese and Thai population, to protect its employees from the risk of criminal prosecution or forced labour, and, insofar as is materially and legally possible, to limit the financial flows received by the national oil company MOGE.
Despite the actions taken, TotalEnergies has not been able to meet the expectations of many stakeholders (shareholders, international and Burmese civil society organisations), who are calling to stop the revenues going to the Burmese state through the state-owned company MOGE from the Yadana field production. In fact, this is materially impossible for TotalEnergies, as most of the payments for the sale of the gas are made directly by the Thai company PTT, the buyer of the exported gas. TotalEnergies has also approached the French authorities to consider putting in place targeted sanctions that would confine all the financial flows of the various partners to escrow accounts without shutting down the gas production. TotalEnergies has not identified any means for doing so.
“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,” the company said.
As a result, TotalEnergies has decided to initiate the contractual process of withdrawing from the Yadana field and from MGTC in Myanmar, both as operator and as shareholder, without any financial compensation for TotalEnergies. This withdrawal has been notified today to TotalEnergies’ partners in Yadana and MGTC and will be effective at the latest at the expiry of the 6-month contractual period. The agreements also stipulate that, in the event of withdrawal, TotalEnergies’ interests will be shared between the current partners, unless they object to such allocation, and that the role of operator will be taken over by one of the partners.
During this notice period, TotalEnergies said it will continue to act as a responsible operator in order to ensure the continuity of gas deliveries for the benefit of the population.
TotalEnergies has indicated to its partners its willingness to ease the transition to the new operator and facilitate the transfer of staff who so wish.