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TotalEnergies, Chevron Exit Myanmar

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TotalEnergies and Chevron have said they will withdraw from Myanmar due to the worsening human rights situation there, putting an end to 30 years of presence in the country.

In doing so, they join Royal Dutch Shell, which confirmed to Energy Intelligence that it had already relinquished its exploration blocks there so “therefore there is no production, revenue nor related payment to government.”

Those decisions are expected to put pressure on other oil and gas companies with operations in Myanmar, including Australian independent Woodside and Thailand's state-owned PTT Exploration and Production.

Total and Chevron’s move comes almost a year after the military junta seized power and arrested the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.

Withdrawal

“We have reviewed our interest in the Yadana natural gas project to enable a planned and orderly transition that will lead to an exit from the country,” a Chevron spokesperson told Energy Intelligence.

In turn, Total said it will withdraw from the Yadana field (Blocks M5 and M6) and from pipeline company Moattama Gas Transportation Co. (MGTC) in Myanmar without any financial compensation.

The situation in Myanmar “no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in the country,” the French major said in a statement.

This withdrawal will be effective at the latest at the expiry of the six-month contractual period.

Total has a 31.24% operated stake and Chevron a 28.26% stake in the Yadana field.

PTTEP as Operator?

Total's interests will be shared between the remaining partners of the project, unless they object to such allocation.

It is believed that the same mechanism applies for Chevron's interest.

This means PTTEP and state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) would see their interest in Yadana and MGTC increase from 25.5% and 15% to 55.25% and 44.75%, respectively, unless PTTEP decides to follow Total and Chevron footsteps.

“PTTEP is considering potential directions of the Yadana project whereby putting the utmost importance for the energy security of Thailand and Myanmar and preventing impacts on energy demand to the livelihood of people in both countries,” PTTEP said in a statement.

Vital Asset

The Yadana field produces around 6 billion cubic meters per year of gas, of which about 70% is exported to Thailand, where it is sold to state-owned energy conglomerate PTT, and 30% to MOGE for domestic use.

The gas helps to provide about half of the electricity in the capital Yangon and supplies the western part of Thailand.

The gas is exported from Yadana to the Myanmar-Thailand border through the MGTC-operated pipeline.

Woodside Under Pressure

Total and Chevron's withdrawal will revive the debate about Woodside’s presence in Myanmar, where the company operates Block A-6.

Woodside said last year that all business decisions in Myanmar are under review until the country's outlook and political stability improve.

Woodside did not reply for a request for comment by press time.

Total, which holds a 40% stake, said last year that it had halted work at the block.

Woodside and Total each hold a 40% stake in Block A-6. Woodside operates the project during the exploration and appraisal phase, but Total was supposed to take over operatorship of the block in the development phase.

“Total stopped all investments in A6 since the beginning of the coup and does not intend to change its position,” Total told Energy Intelligence. “It should be remembered that Block A6 is not generating any revenue as it is at the exploration stage; there is no production. We do not plan to resume the Block A6 project.”

Total Backs Sanctions

In conjunction with its withdrawal announcement, Total has told Human Rights Watch that the company had spoken with French and US authorities and that it is supporting the introduction of sanctions on oil and gas payments.

Such sanctions would provide Total with a legal base to stop sharing revenues from the exploitation of Yadana field with the military junta.

Total said it asked the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to put in place targeted sanctions that would confine all the financial flows of the various partners to escrow accounts without shutting down the gas production.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that targeted sanctions on revenue and tax payments would not disrupt operations, just the flow of funds to the junta.

“The EU and the US are in a key position to impose sanctions since payments for gas operations are made in US dollars and involve multinational banks that fall under the jurisdiction of EU and US law,” Human Rights Watch said.

In April last year, Total said that it will not stop producing gas from its Yadana field, saying such a decision would add to the suffering of the people of Myanmar and put local employees in danger.

Natural gas projects in Myanmar generate over $1 billion in foreign revenue for the junta annually, its single largest source of foreign currency revenue, Human Rights Watch said.

Total, Chevron Presence in Myanmar
Blocks M5 and M6 (Yadana Field) and Moattama Gas Transportation Co.Share
Total (operator)31.24%
Chevron28.26
PTTEP25.50
Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise15.00
Block A-6Share
Woodside (operator)40.00
Total40.00
Myanmar Petroleum Resources20.00%

Topics:
Sanctions, Conflict, Majors, Corporate Strategy , Independent E&Ps
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