The logo of French energy company Total at its Paris headquarters. (AFP)
The logo of French energy company Total at its Paris headquarters. (AFP)

Total suspends gas-linked cash payments to Myanmar junta

By AFP

French energy giant Total said on Wednesday that the military regime would no longer receive cash payments linked to the Yadana gas pipeline, which Total operates through a joint venture with a Myanmar state-owned energy company.

Total said in a statement the decision was made at a May 12 meeting of shareholders of Moattama Gas Transportation Company Limited.

MGTC also includes the French firm, Chevron, and the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, which has been under military control since the February 1 military coup

“In light of the unstable context in Myanmar… cash distributions to the shareholders of the company have been suspended” effective from April 1, the company said.

It added that it “condemns the violence and human rights abuses occurring in Myanmar” and would comply with any potential sanctions against the junta from the EU or US.

Total has come under pressure from pro-democracy activists to “stop financing the junta” since the coup, which has been followed by a brutal crackdown on dissent.

The MGTC-operated pipeline, which is 15-percent owned by MOGE, brings gas from the offshore Yadana field operated by Total to Myanmar’s border with Thailand.

Total said it would continue to produce gas so as not to disrupt electricity supply in either country.

French newspaper Le Monde revealed Total’s involvement in MGTC in early May, also reporting that the company was based in tax haven Bermuda.

“The colossal profits of the gas operations do not pass through the coffers of the Myanmar state, but are massively recuperated by a company totally controlled by the military,” Le Monde found. 

Days after publishing the story, Le Monde said Total pulled several adverts it had planned to run in its pages in the following weeks.

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