Chevron abandons operations in Myanmar’s Yadana gas field

Picture courtesy of JPT

In an unprecedented move, Chevron, the US energy giant, has abandoned its operations in the Yadana natural gas field in Myanmar, as confirmed by a company representative. This decision comes over two years after the corporation expressed concern about the violence and human rights violations in the military-controlled nation and declared its intention to withdraw.

The 41.1% stake in the gas field that Chevron held was not sold off, instead, it was divided among the remaining shareholders. These include Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) and the state-run Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

PTTEP, which manages the field, announced on Friday that its stake in Yadana has risen to 62.96% following Chevron’s divestment via Unocal Myanmar Offshore Co Ltd, a wholly-owned Chevron subsidiary, said a Chevron spokesperson.

“A controlled and orderly exit from Myanmar, in light of the February 2021 coup and the ongoing humanitarian crisis, is what our withdrawal signifies.”

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Ever since the military overthrew the elected government in 2021, Myanmar has been mired in turmoil. This has given rise to a national resistance movement, which is supported by numerous ethnic minority armies.

The Yadana field, located in the Gulf of Martaban, yields about six billion cubic metres of gas annually. Approximately 70% of this is exported to Thailand, while the remaining 30% is used domestically by MOGE.

Yadana stake

After the 2021 coup, MOGE was seized by the junta. Chevron had stated in January 2022 that it intended to leave Myanmar, and in February 2023, it announced an agreement to sell its assets there, including its Yadana stake. However, it has instead pulled out.

Rights groups and United Nations experts have accused Myanmar’s military of committing atrocities against civilians in its attempts to crush the resistance. The junta dismisses these accusations, claiming it is fighting terrorists and has refused to heed international appeals for a ceasefire.

In 2021, TotalEnergies, the French oil and gas group, and Chevron halted some payments from Yadana that would have reached the junta, a move that pro-democracy activists praised. TotalEnergies withdrew in 2022.

Justice for Myanmar, a non-profit organisation, claimed that Chevron’s exit was a result of continued pressure from civil society over the gas project’s payments to the Myanmar junta.

Chevron maintains that its departure from Myanmar was carried out in a responsible, orderly, and safe manner, by international law and trade sanctions, reported Bangkok Post.

PTTEP has stated to the Stock Exchange of Thailand that the Yadana project holds strategic importance in energy security for both Thailand and Myanmar.

“As the operator of the project, we will continue gas production from the field to meet people’s needs and maintain energy security in both Thailand and Myanmar.”

In November of last year, the administration of President Joe Biden imposed sanctions on certain financial services provided by Americans to MOGE. This marks the first direct action against the enterprise, aimed at undermining the military junta that controls it.

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Alex Morgan

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