February 14, 2023, Washington, D.C.–On Friday, Chevron announced that it would finally exit Myanmar (Burma), selling its assets to Canada-based MTI Investment Inc. (MTI).
EarthRights International Director of Strategy and Campaigns Keith Slack released the following statement:
“After raking in millions in profits from its Yadana gas project following the coup, Chevron is capping 20 years as one of the Myanmar military’s largest funders with an irresponsible disengagement. After lobbying against sanctions, Chevron refuses to take practical steps that could divert the junta’s largest source of revenues, ignoring calls from its shareholders to do so. Chevron should heed these calls rather than cutting and running just months after Yadana gas production and profits started a gradual decline.
“Since the military attempted to seize control of Myanmar, nearly 3,000 people have been killed, over 13,000 have been detained, one-and-a-half million have been displaced, 40,000 homes have been burnt down, eight million children are no longer in school, and the UN judges 15 million people to be dangerously short of food. A humanitarian crisis grips the country; meanwhile, revenues from fossil fuel companies fuel these atrocities.
“Despite aggressive efforts to greenwash its image, Chevron has a long history of undermining human and environmental rights globally and in Myanmar. Since the 1990s, billions in revenues from Chevron’s Yadana project have disappeared into the military’s offshore bank accounts. By 2016, two-thirds of Myanmar still had no regular electricity, Myanmar had experienced the worst life expectancy and child mortality rates in the region, and the vast military budget funded atrocities against ethnic minorities.
“Only during a brief window of democratic transition, from 2016 to 2020, did Myanmar’s first elected government in five decades initiate steps to control gas revenues. Chevron cannot hide behind this brief interlude to masquerade as a responsible actor. When the military began its coup in 2021, Chevron reprised its role as a funder of the dictatorship.
“Chevron has produced a stream of disinformation about its actions in Myanmar. The company has repeatedly claimed that Yadana supplies needed energy for Thailand. It doesn’t. Thailand could switch to importing liquified natural gas. Chevron should know this after crushing Thailand’s domestic gas production in a dispute with the Thai government.
“As it exits, Chevron is ignoring the reality that its fossil gas contracts are with the government of Myanmar, not with a violent junta that UN experts say has a fraudulent claim to legitimacy. Recent U.S. legislation proposes exemptions that appear tailor-made for Chevron’s contracts, confirming that they are with the ‘Government of Burma [Myanmar].’
“Yet every month, Chevron allows millions of dollars it owes to the Government of Myanmar to be paid to accounts illegally seized by the junta.
“With Chevron leaving Myanmar, we cannot allow MTI to let the junta continue to misappropriate gas revenues. EarthRights joins civil society organizations and elected leaders from Myanmar to call on:
- Chevron and MTI Energy to recognize that the junta is an armed gang terrorizing the country, to stop funding its atrocities, to stop treating it like a legitimate government, and to take all possible steps to divert revenues.
- Chevron’s shareholders to divest from Chevron, citing two years of complicity in atrocities.
- The U.S. government to follow the EU’s lead and sanction the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the government department whose revenues the junta has hijacked with the support of Chevron.
Kate Fried, EarthRights International