Chevron and Total withdraw from Myanmar gas project


The energy firms Chevron and Total have announced they will withdraw from Myanmar, a breakthrough for activists who have campaigned for the companies to cut off what is a major source of revenue for the military junta.

In a statement, Total, which renamed itself TotalEnergies last year, cited the worsening human rights situation in Myanmar, which was plunged into chaos almost a year ago when the military seized power in a coup, ousting the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The French company said the human rights situation and deteriorating rule of law “no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in the country”.

The US firm Chevron said it too was planning to leave “in light of circumstances”.

Since the coup, the military has attempted to crush any opposition to its rule, prompting civilians to form armed defense groups.

At least 11,651 people have been arrested for opposing the military’s rules, while 1,488 have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors military abuses.

On Friday a military tribunal handed down death sentences to two men convicted of terror offenses – Phyo Zeyar Thaw, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted National League for Democracy party, and prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as “Jimmy”.

The junta has sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death as part of its crackdown on dissent but Myanmar has not carried out an execution for decades.

The oil firms’ announcement is a major victory for campaigners, who have called for all companies to cut commercial ties with the state-owned enterprise Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which has deep links with the military.

According to Human Rights Watch, natural gas projects in Myanmar generate more than $1bn in foreign revenue for the junta each year, its single largest source of foreign currency revenue.