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Big oil, gas, & mines: #divesttatmadaw now!

Sign up to call on Total, Petronas, POSCO, Chevron, PTT, Myanmar Wanbao, Adani, and Myanmar Metals Ltd. to divest their investments and cut other financial and corporate linkages with the Tatmadaw’s MEHL, MEC, and MOGE front corporations.

Strategically, we are calling for the following actions:

  • Governments of all countries to immediately put sanctions on MOGE until a democratically-elected civilian government is restored under the new federal constitution accepted by the people of Burma.
  • Governments of all countries to immediately stop providing weapons to the military regime, and to refuse to recognize diplomats representing that regime as representatives of the legitimate government of Burma.
  • The operators of four offshore gas-producing fields -- Total, Petronas, PTTEP, POSCO, and CNPC — to immediately cease operations until a democratically-elected civilian government is in power.
  • All foreign oil, gas and mining companies in Burma to cease explorations until a democratically-elected civilian government is in power. 

As an urgent pivotal action, we, are calling on Total, Petronas, POSCO, Chevron, PTT, Myanmar Wanbao, Adani, and Myanmar Metals Ltd. to divest their investments and cut other financial and corporate linkages with the Tatmadaw’s MEHL, MEC, and MOGE front corporations.

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About

Since the unlawful military coup in Burma (Myanmar) on February 1, the Tatmadaw military regime has killed more than 1000 protesters throughout the country, including more than 80 children [1]. Nearly 6000 democracy activists are currently detained or sentenced, including democratically-elected President U Win Myint, State-counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, civil society leaders, journalists and celebrities. UNOCHA estimates that military airstrikes and offensives since the coup have displaced more than 200,000 civilians in Burma’s ethnic states[2].

As the Tatmadaw military regime continues to brutalize and terrorize protesters, international oil companies, which are the largest source of revenue to the government, continue to fuel their operations. Revenues from oil and gas and other mining projects make up 35% of Burma’s official export revenues. It has used revenue from extractives to buy weapons to kill its own people — including fighter jets mostly from China and Russia. 

If they succeed, the Tatmadaw will control all oil and gas revenues in the country, enabling increased and prolonged brutality and repression. The whole world should be concerned with corruption, human rights abuses, and environmental destruction resulting from oil, gas and mining projects that are instrumental to the success of the Tatmadaw.

According to the OHCHR, 14 foreign companies have joint ventures, and at least 44 foreign companies have other forms of commercial ties with Tatmadaw affiliated businesses [3]. Companies from China, Japan, India, Hong Kong, Seychelles, South Korea, Viet Nam and Singapore have joint ventures with Tatmadaw-controlled Myanmar Economic Holding Limited (MEHL) or Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) companies [4]. 

Although the US and the European Union have placed sanctions against these directly military-owned companies, high-ranking military officials and a few state-owned entities, they have thus far not sanctioned the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

The 100% state-owned MOGE is the only company authorized to partner with foreign companies for oil and gas operations in Burma. MOGE, the country’s biggest money-maker, is responsible for signing contracts worth billions of dollars in gas production revenue [5].

In addition to Burma’s gas export revenue, The China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), which operates the controversial dual China-Burma oil and gas pipeline, pays the Burma government at least US $33 million every year for the oil and gas pipeline transit fees and right of way [6].

Every year, international oil companies provide over US$1 billion to the Tatmadaw regime by exporting fossil gas to Thailand and China from four offshore gas projects, constituting the regime’s single largest source of export income. The offshore projects and related pipeline companies are operated by Total from France (Yadana), Petronas from Malaysia (Yetagun), POSCO from South Korea (Shwe), PTTEP from Thailand (Zawtika), and CNPC from China (Shwe pipelines) (See Annex 1).

The mining industry also funds the Tatmadaw as part of the extractive sector, including the estimated US$31-billion Jade mining industry [7]. Apart from being environmentally destructive, they also directly contribute to human rights abuses, facilitation of weapons deals, and illicit trade. These companies include the Chinese joint venture Myanmar Wanbao, and the Australian government-backed Adani Group from India (See Annex 2).

Strategically, we are calling for the following actions:

  • Governments of all countries to immediately put sanctions on MOGE until a democratically-elected civilian government is restored under the new federal constitution accepted by the people of Burma.
  • Governments of all countries to immediately stop providing weapons to the military regime and refuse to recognize diplomats representing that regime as representatives of the legitimate government of Burma.
  • The operators of four offshore gas-producing fields — Total, Petronas, PTTEP, POSCO, and CNPC — to immediately cease operations until a democratically-elected civilian government is in power.
  • All foreign oil, gas and mining companies in Burma cease exploration until a democratically-elected civilian government is in power. 

Demonstrators, civil society, the National Unity Government and ethnic political organisations of Burma call on international mining, oil and gas companies to end all communication with the Burma military regime.  

As an urgent pivotal action, we, the undersigned, are calling on Total, Petronas, POSCO, Chevron, PTT, Myanmar Wanbao, Adani, and Myanmar Metals Ltd. to divest their investments and cut other financial and corporate linkages with the Tatmadaw’s MEHL, MEC, and MOGE front corporations.

Signatories:

  1. Arakan OilWatch, Burma
  2. Myanmar Mining Watch Network, Burma
  3. Karen Rivers Watch, Burma
  4. OilWatch Southeast Asia
  5. La’o Hamutuk, Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis, Timor-Leste
  6. Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH Thailand), Thailand
  7. AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, Philippines
  8. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Philippines
  9. Jaringan Advokasi Tambang (JATAM), Indonesia
  10. OilWatch Africa
  11. Yes to Life, No to Mining Southeast Asia
  12. Asia Pacific Network of Environmental Defenders (APNED)
  13. 350.org Asia
  14. 350 Pilipinas, Philippines

Annex1: Key International Oil and Gas companies fuelling the regime

The four main sites in Myanmar for offshore gas extraction are Yadana, Yetagun Zawtika, and Shwe. Yadana and Yetagun are located in the Andaman Sea. The Shwe natural gas project includes, Shwe Phyu and Mya fields located offshore Rakhine State in blocks A-1 and A-3 of the Bay of Bengal. The Zawtika sites include the development of the Zawtika, Kakonna, and Gawthaka fields, located in blocks M9 and M11 of the Gulf of Martaban.

Total (France) and US Chevron/Unocal (US)

  • The Yadana gas field, which is operated by Total in close partnership with Chevron, has reports from its workers that they were prevented from joining the civil disobedience movement [8].
  • The Moattama Gas Transportation Company (MGTC), also operated by Total and other Yadana stakeholders, carrying gas from Yadana to Thailand, in 2019 declared a turnover of nearly $523 million, for only $11 million of expenses [9].
  • Total’s and Chevron’s financial statements do not mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in additional tariffs, fees, and tax payments that MGTC pays to Tatmadaw bank accounts. They also do not mention the hundreds of millions of dollars more that MOGE receives from its share of revenues from selling gas to the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT), Thailand’s majority state-owned oil and gas company [10].

Petroleum Authority of Thailand Exploration and Production, PTTEP, (Thailand)

  • PTTEP is a Stakeholder and purchaser of gas from the Yadana, Yetagun, and Zawtika fields with an export value of approx. US$ 2 billion in 2020.  
  • PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP), a subsidiary of PTT, has been a partner of Total, Chevron, and MOGE since 1992. 
  • PTTEP also plans a $2 billion gas-to-power investment with gas from the M-3 block and Zawtika fields. The 600-MW power plant would supply 10% of Myanmar’s existing installed power plant capacity.
  • A 2019 PTT joint venture is paying the military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) nearly US$1 million in annual rent for the construction of a fuel terminal on land seized from farmers [11]. 
  • Japanese companies Nippon Oil and Mitsui hold shares in Yetagun and M-3 projects respectively.  

Petronal/PC Myanmar (Malaysia/Hong Kong)

  • Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) subsidiary, PC Myanmar (Hong Kong) Ltd (PCML) has declared force majeure on its Yetagun gas production field in the Andaman Sea. 
  • PCML, which has been operating the gas project since 2003, holds a 40.9% participating interest together with an affiliate, while Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise holds 20.5% [12]. Other stakeholders are Nippon Oil Exploration (NOEX) Limited holding 19.3% and PTTEP International Limited with the remaining 19.3% [13].
  • The force majeure was called due to declining production levels, and PCML claims that it will resume production as soon as possible.

 

POSCO (South Korea)

  • POSCO is the operator and main shareholder of the Shwe offshore fields, and the Shwe consortium also includes Korean KOGAS and the regime’s MOGE as well as Indian companies ONGC Videsh and GAIL. 
  • The Shwe field generated revenues of $623 million for POSCO International in 2020, accounting for 86% of its Burma revenues. The company’s operating profits from the project — which is currently being expanded to bring on stream more gas resources — totaled $276 million in 2020 [14, 15].
  • POSCO reportedly denied allegations that the Shwe gas development project — in which state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise (MOGE) is a partner — has links to the military junta.
  • POSCO further claimed that Chinese or other foreign players might replace the company was it to pull out of Myanmar, saying that it “will only benefit the junta while inflicting damage to Korea”.
  • In addition to Burma’s gas export revenue, The China National Petroleum Company (CNPC), which operates the controversial dual China-Burma oil and gas pipelines, pays the Burma government at least US $33 million every year for the oil and gas pipeline transit fees and right of way. 

Annex 2: Foreign Mining Investments

Myanmar’s prominent mineral resources include copper, gold, lead, zinc, silver, tin, and nickel. Additionally, over 90% of the world’s jade is mined in the country, with the most valuable deposits in Kachin Hills. Overall, exploration is still lucrative for investors including foreign ones that aim to get joint ventures. 

In 2011, Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd, a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned arms manufacturer China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), formed a partnership with MEHL to take over operations under the joint venture Myanmar Wanbao [16].  The joint venture operates at Myanmar’s two largest two copper mines in Sagaing State.

The India-based Adani Group is paying up to $US52 million ($68.1 million) to MEC [17]. They also have a  US$290 million agreement with MEC for a 50-year lease to build a port near Yangon [18] on top of a US$2.5 million investment from the Australian government’s Future Fund [19].

Ruby and jade mining in the Kachin and Shan states are also notable because of illicit trade backed by Chinese investors [20, 21]. The jade industry by itself is worth more than US$30 billion, nearly half of Myanmar’s GDP in 2014 [22]. This has led to Tatmadaw-incited international human rights violations in conflict-affected areas in Kachin State. The 2019 OHCHR mission reports that forced labour was used to increase mining revenue while the mining areas have been used as staging grounds for abductions, forced labour, sexual violence and murder.

References:

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. (August 23, 2021). Retrieved August 23, 2021 from Daily Briefing in Relation to the Military Coup. https://aappb.org/?lang=en

Karen Peace Support Network (2021). Terror from the Skies: Coup regime’s escalated offensives cause mass displacement across Mutraw. https://www.karenpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Terror-from-the-Skies_Briefing_KPSN_English.pdf

United Nations Human Rights Council (2019). The Economic Interests of the Myanmar Military: Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/FFM-Myanmar/EconomicInterestsMyanmarMilitary/A_HRC_42_CRP_3.pdf

Jennings A. (2021). Myanmar: Australian mining companies put profit ahead of human rights and democracy https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/myanmar-australian-mining-companies-put-profit-ahead-human-rights-and-democracy

International Trade Administration (2019). Burma – Country Commercial Guide https://www.trade.gov/knowledge-product/burma-oil-and-gas

Financial Times (2016). The Great Land Rush Myanmar: The dispossessed https://ig.ft.com/sites/land-rush-investment/myanmar/

Nachemson, A, & Hlaing KH (2021). Myanmar’s warring military and rebels find common ground in corrupt jade trade. https://news.mongabay.com/2021/07/myanmars-warring-military-and-rebels-find-common-ground-in-corrupt-jade-trade/

Butler, B.  & Doherty B. (May 27, 2021) Myanmar: fossil fuel giants cut payments to junta but gas still flows. The Guardian. Retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/27/myanmar-total-chevron-gas-dividend-payments-military

Desai, S. (May 5, 2021). French energy giant Total funding Myanmar’s military junta: Report. Anadolu Agency. Retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/french-energy-giant-total-funding-myanmar-s-military-junta-report/2229613

Human RIghts Watch (2021). Myanmar: Chevron, Total Suspend Some Payments to Junta https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/05/28/myanmar-chevron-total-suspend-some-payments-junta

Factbox: Oil majors in Myanmar in spotlight after UN call for sanctions (2021). Reuters. Retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-politics-energy-factbox-idUSKBN2B11XX

Protesters demand Chevron suspend payments to Myanmar junta ahead of shareholder meeting (2019). https://www.burmalibrary.org/en/category/history-of-the-tatmadaw

Petronas (April 2, 2021). PETRONAS’ Upstream Operations in Myanmar Declares Force Majeure On Its Yetagun Field. https://www.petronas.com/media/press-release/petronas-upstream-operations-myanmar-declares-force-majeure-its-yetagun-field

JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration (n.d.) Myanmar Blocks M-12, 13, 14. Retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://www.nex.jx-group.co.jp/english/project/southeast_asia/myanmar.html

Battersby, A. (April 14, 2021) Posco defends Myanmar operations as security situation deteriorates. Upstream. Retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://www.upstreamonline.com/politics/posco-defends-myanmar-operations-as-security-situation-deteriorates/2-1-994625

Kim, C. (April 5, 2021). S.Korea steel giant POSCO weighs how to exit Myanmar military-backed venture -sources.Reuters. Retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-politics-posco-exclusive/s-korea-steel-giant-posco-weighs-how-to-exit-myanmar-military-backed-venture-sources-idUSKBN2BS0K0

Slow, O. Aung W.Z.N., and Mon, E.E. (June 5, 2019) Left behind by the Letpadaung copper mine. Frontier. https://www.frontiermyanmar.net/en/left-behind-by-the-letpadaung-copper-mine/

Hosie, E. (February 14, 2019). Myanmar Metals confirms Bawdwin JV as World’s Largest Lead Resource. Australian Mining. https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/myanmar-metals-confirms-bawdwin-jv-as-worlds-largest-lead-resource/

McKenzie, N. (March 1, 2021). Revealing the dubious links of an Australian company in troubled Myanmar. The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/revealing-the-dubious-links-of-an-australian-company-in-troubled-myanmar-20210225-p575x0.html

 Wyler, L.S. (August 21, 2008).CRS Report for Congress Burma and Transnational Crime. Federation of American Scientists. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL34225.pdf

Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (February 2021). Extracting the Truth about the Bawdwin Mine. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5dfc4510ad88600d53f93358/t/603bffb546b5cf505a2efc8a/1614544829031/PWYP+Extracting+the+truth+about+the+Bawdwin+mine+-+Brief+-+FINAL.pdf

 

Robertson, J. (March 31, 2021). The Adani Group denies engaging with Myanmar’s military leadership over port deal but video suggests otherwise. Australia Broadcasting Corporation News. Retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-30/queensland-adani-ports-myanmar-military-deal/100032156

Amarasinghe, G. (January 8, 2021) Ethical minefields: the dirty business of doing deals with Myanmar’s military. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/ethical-minefields-the-dirty-business-of-doing-deals-with-myanmars-military-152318

Nachemson, A. & Thu, E.T. (November 27,2020). Danger and desperation in Myanmar’s jade mines. The Third Pole. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/livelihoods/danger-and-desperation-in-myanmars-jade-mines/

Regencia, T. (June 29, 2021). Myanmar army ‘tightens grip’ on multibillion dollar jade trade: Report. Al Jazeera. Retrieved August 23, 2021 from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/29/global-witness-report-jade-in-myanmar

Global Witness (2015). Jade: Myanmar’s “Big State Secret”. https://www.globalwitness.org/documents/18343/Jade_full_report_second_run_online_hi_res_q7urZIk.pdf

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