Offshoreplattform i Burma. /Foto: T2Thithat/Shutterstock

Oljebolaget Chevron måste stoppa utbetalningar till den burmesiska militären

Öppet brev, Stockholm, 23 mars 2021

Chevron måste omedelbart stoppa utbetalningar av royalties till det statliga bolaget Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). Risken är överhängande att pengarna annars går till den burmesiska militären som nu tagit över makten i landet.

All olje- och gasutvinning i Burma sker genom samarbeten med det statliga olje- och gasbolaget Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). Chevron har genom sitt dotterbolag Unocal delägande i gasfältet Yadana utanför Ayeyarwadys kust. Övriga delägare är franska Total, thailändska PTT Exploration and Production Public Company och MOGE.

Yadanafältet är en stor intäktskälla för den burmesiska staten. Enbart Chevrons andel beräknas ha bidragit med 600 miljoner US dollar i royalties till MOGE mellan 2015-2019. Sedan militären tog makten i en statskupp den 1 februari är risken nu överhängande att utbetalningar som görs till statligt ägda bolag nu istället tas i anspråk av militären. I det öppna brevet kräver vi därför att utbetalningar tills vidare görs till ett separat konto som militären inte förfogar över. När en legitim regering finns på plats kan pengarna överföras till staten så att de kommer det burmesiska folket till gagn.

Läs mer:
Brevet till Chevron i PDF-format
Rights groups urge Chevron to stop payments to Myanmar oil company – Financial Times
News: 140+ groups demand Chevron cut off oil revenue flows to Myanmar military – Publish What You Pay US

Brevet i sin helhet

March 23, 2021

Michael Wirth
CEO, Chevron Corporation
6001 Bollinger Canyon Road
San Ramon, CA 94583, USA

Dear Mr. Wirth,

Re: Unocal Operations in Myanmar

We write in regards to Chevron’s business in Myanmar through its wholly-owned subsidiary (Unocal Myanmar Offshore Co. Limited – Unocal) and the recent coup d’etat by the Myanmar military.

The people of Myanmar strongly oppose the military coup. This is evidenced by nationwide protests including people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities and professions as well as tens of thousands of public servants participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) against the Myanmar military coup. The CDM is intended to disrupt the military regime’s ability to control the country, including limiting its ability to collect revenue.

The international community has also condemned the coup and human rights abuses by the military: the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council convened a Special Session on Myanmar; the UN Security Council has expressed “deep concern”; Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (US) issued targeted sanctions against military leaders; and the European Union (EU) has condemned the military coup “in the strongest terms.” The Myanmar ambassador to the UN, U Kyaw Moe Tun, has also called on the international community to not recognize the junta and to take the strongest possible actions against the military, a call echoed by the UN’s Special Envoy on Myanmar who has asked “How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?”; South Korea has suspended defense exchanges and the Australian government has suspended military cooperation; New Zealand has suspended all diplomatic relations with Myanmar; Myanmar has been suspended from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; and both the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have suspended sovereign lending to Myanmar.

Based on this context, we, the undersigned organizations and concerned individuals, call on Chevron and its partners to use their ownership stakes in joint ventures with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) to ensure that payments of royalties and other revenues are not made to MOGE. Instead, companies should make revenue payments into protected accounts until such time as the legitimate and democratically elected government is returned.

According to revenue figures from FY2019-2020, oil and gas revenues provided Myanmar with USD 1.5 billion in annual income, with around 80% of that income derived from the offshore gas sector. MOGE, the Myanmar state-owned oil and gas company, collects much of that income through its joint ventures and revenue sharing agreements with international corporations, including Chevron. Even though MOGE has long been one of the most opaque economic actors in Myanmar, all offshore and onshore gas and oil contracts include a production or profit-sharing arrangement with MOGE.

Chevron’s most significant stake in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector is through the Yadana offshore gas project located off the southwest coast of Myanmar. Total, Chevron, MOGE, and Thai-owned PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP) jointly own the project, which is a huge source of revenue for the Myanmar government–according to the 2016/17 MEITI report, the Yadana project accounted for 42% of total oil and gas production from offshore projects. According to Reuters, Chevron’s participating interest in the Yadana project likely generated nearly $600 million in payments to MOGE between 2015-2019.

Chevron and its partners must use their ownership stakes in joint ventures with MOGE to ensure that these payments of royalties and other revenues are not made to MOGE. These revenues are at high risk of being misappropriated and used to fund the operations of the Myanmar military as well as the illegitimate military regime, and could be used to support military operations and interests, including the generals and military units responsible for the coup and recent atrocities against the Rohingya, other ethnic groups, and against those participating in the CDM. Neither the U.S. nor any other government – nor the U.N. – has formally recognized the military regime as the Government of Myanmar, thus any money paid over to the regime may be assisting in the theft of Myanmar’s public assets.

Thus far, Chevron has responded to the coup in a letter on 12 February and a joint statement on 18 February, saying that it adheres to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and that it will work to “promote responsible investment and locally support business practices” in Myanmar. We note, however, that Chevron’s main local business partner is MOGE, a government entity run by an appointee nominated by the previous military-led government that has a history of being used during military rule to misappropriate potentially billions of dollars of funds. In the present context, if no action is taken, Chevron and its joint venture partners will be paying hundreds of millions of dollars into accounts that are now controlled by that same military, a military whose leadership is on trial in international courts for committing genocide and that has now killed over 250 protestors. This would run counter to the UN Guiding Principles, which require Chevron to seek to prevent adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their business relationships.

We therefore support calls from Myanmar civil society and the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw not to legitimize the junta and for Chevron and other companies in the oil & gas sector to ensure that money from the oil and gas industry does not go to the MOGE or the military. Chevron and its partners must use their position in joint ventures with MOGE to suspend all payments to the Myanmar government and make revenue payments into protected accounts until a legitimate, democratically elected government is in place. We encourage you to publicly support a return to democracy and civilian-led government and an end to military involvement in Myanmar’s civilian politics and to recognize what has happened as a coup, rather than referring to it as “the current situation” as articled in your 12 February statement. We request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these matters.

Yours Sincerely,