Burma

France Pressured to Block Total's Payment to Myanmar Junta

By Nora Aung 21 June 2022

About 459 civil society organizations have urged France to prevent the French oil and gas major Total from funding Myanmar’s junta through the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) on Monday.

Total and Chevron announced on January 21 that they will withdraw from the Yadana natural gas project in the Andaman Sea. Yadana is Myanmar’s single-largest source of foreign currency, generating more than US$1 billion per year, according to Human Rights Watch.

The European Union sanctioned MOGE in February but an exemption means Total needs French government approval to transfer money related to decommissioning oil and gas wells, environmental restoration and shares and other interests to MOGE.

By July 20 Total is due to hand over millions of dollars to MOGE, including US$250 million for Yadana and to bring in Thai-firm PTT Exploration and Production as the new operator, according to the Blood Money Campaign.

Ko Ye of the group told The Irrawaddy that France must decide if it wants to participate in crimes against humanity with the junta.

“The French government will pay for the regime’s weapons to kill civilians if it approves the exemptions for Total,” he said.

The campaign is a civil society organization monitoring the regime’s foreign income to prevent foreign businesses from working with the junta.

On June 4 the French foreign ministry and its embassy in Myanmar declared the regime illegal. The French Senate has recognized the National Unity Government as Myanmar’s legitimate representative.

MOGE has been a lifeline for military regimes for decades. An estimated 50 percent or $1.5 billion of foreign income came from oil and gas in 2020-21, according to pre-coup forecasts.

Since the coup in February last year, the regime has killed nearly 2,000 people and it uses airstrikes, artillery, arson, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests against civilians.

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