Total says abandonment of Myanmar gas field would hurt workers, cities, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld
Total has come under pressure from advocacy groups and Myanmar’s parallel civilian government to review its operations amid allegations that its tax payments are funding the military-controlled state.
In a column to be published Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche and put online, the CEO of Total Patrick Pouyanne said the group had several reasons for maintaining its Yadana offshore site.
He feared staff would be exposed to forced labor under the junta if it decided to shut down production to protest violence in Myanmar, Pouyanne said, and the group also did not want to cut off a major power source.
“Can we stop the production of this gas which supplies electricity to a large population in Yangon, adding to their suffering?” Pouyanne said in the statement. “For their part, the Thai authorities have alerted us to the importance of this source of energy.
Located off the southwest coast of Myanmar in the Gulf of Martaban, the Yadana fields produce gas for delivery to power plants in Thailand. They also supply Myanmar’s domestic market, through an offshore pipeline built and operated by the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
Pouyanne said Total had considered placing payments on taxes owed to the Myanmar state in an escrow account, as suggested by some activists, but said doing so could put local managers in conflict with the law.
Total had so far not paid any of the $ 4 million in monthly taxes it usually pays the military government, Pouyanne added, “for the simple reason that the banking system is no longer functioning.”
Total has halted new projects and drilling in Myanmar in response to the crisis, and Pouyanne said the group was “appalled by the ongoing crackdown”.
Burmese security forces opened fire on pro-democracy protests on Saturday, killing at least five people, a protester and media said, as the military intensified its attempt to quell dissent with warrants against 20 more high profile reviews.
Pouyanne added that Total would donate the equivalent of the taxes that the group will have to pay to the Burmese government to associations working for human rights in the country.