French energy group TotalEnergies said on Friday it had decided to withdraw from Myanmar because of the worsening human rights situation there, becoming the latest Western company to pull out following a coup there last year.
Since the coup, Myanmar security forces have killed more than 1,400 people and arrested thousands to try to crush resistance, local non-governmental organisation Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said. The Junta disputes the figures.
"The situation, in terms of human rights and more generally the rule of law, which have kept worsening in Myanmar since the coup of February 2021, has led us to reassess the situation and no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in the country," it said in a statement.
"As a result, TotalEnergies has decided to initiate the contractual process of withdrawing from the Yadana field and from MGTC in Myanmar, both as operator and as shareholder, without any financial compensation for TotalEnergies."
The junta seized power alleging widespread fraud in a November 2020 election won by a landslide by the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
International and local monitoring groups said there were no major irregularities with the vote.
Total Energies did not quantify the financial impact of the withdrawal but said the country represented a minor part of its revenues.
"Financial considerations have never been crucial in this matter. Our operations in Myanmar amounted to $105 million in 2021, equivalent to less than 1% of the company's income," said a TotalEnergies spokesperson.
TotalEnergies said it had notified its partners in Myanmar of its withdrawal, which will become effective at the latest at the expiry of a 6-month contractual period.
Past agreements stipulate that TotalEnergies' interests will be shared between the current partners, unless they object to such an allocation, and that the role of operator will be taken over by one of them, it said.
TotalEnergies said it has been the operator of the Yadana gas field's blocks M5 and M6 in Myanmar since 1992, alongside partners Unocal-Chevron, PTTEP, a subsidiary of the Thai national energy company PTT, and Myanmar state-owned oil and gas group MOGE.
A TotalEnergies spokesperson said PTT would be a 'natural' choice for its Myanmar assets, adding it was already in contact with the company over this.
The Yadana field produces around 6 billion cubic metres per year of gas, TotalEnergies said in the statement. About 30% is supplied to MOGE for domestic use and 70% is exported to Thailand, where it is sold to PTT, TotalEnergies said in the statement.
"This gas helps to provide about half of the electricity in the Burmese capital Yangoon and supplies the western part of Thailand," it said.
IMAGE SOURCE: Total Energies