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Woodside Petroleum to withdraw from Myanmar a year after military coup | burma

Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has announced it is following multinational energy groups Chevron and Total out of Myanmar, saying it cannot work in the country following the military coup almost a year ago and ongoing human rights abuses and violence from the regime against civilians.

The moves follow pressure from human rights groups, which have called on companies to stop doing business in Myanmar and cut off the flow of money from projects to the board. February marks a year since the military retook control of Myanmar in a coup.

Last week, Woodside revealed that it had terminated a production-sharing contract with state oil and gas company MOGE in November, and on Thursday the company said it would abandon the rest of its licenses in the country.

The termination of the contract covers an offshore block known as A-7, where Woodside owns 45% and Shell 45%, and takes effect on September 30 “with the formal transfer process underway,” Woodside said. Shell also gave up its license and “has no licenses in Myanmar” after giving up all of them, a spokesman said.

On Thursday, Woodside said it would also pull out of two other offshore fields where it holds exploration licenses, AD-1 and AD-8, as well as a second contract with MOGE covering a third block, A-6.

The withdrawal will cost a total of $209 million, Woodside told the Australian Stock Exchange.

Given the current situation in Myanmar We can no longer contemplate Woodside’s involvement in the development of the A-6 gas resources, or other future activities in the country,” said the company’s CEO, Meg O’Neill.

Woodside has not carried out any activities in Myanmar since shortly after the coup and has not paid any permit fees to the government in the past year, a spokesman said.

Myanmar’s military took control of the country in a coup in February 2021 and has since killed more than 1,200 civilians in the crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Known as the Tatmadaw, the army has faced international condemnation for its 2017 “cleansing operations” – carried out with “genocidal intent” according to UN investigators – against the Rohingya ethnic minority in Rakhine state, which included mass murders, including of children, gangs. rapes, fires and torture. More than 25,000 Rohingya were killed and 700,000 were herded across the Myanmar border into Bangladesh.

Yadanar Maung, a spokesman for Justice for Myanmar, welcomed the withdrawals as “an important step in defunding the illegal military junta.”

“It is essential that companies exit responsibly, mitigating negative impacts and ensuring that the board does not benefit financially from their withdrawal.”

Yadanar Maung said it was “shameful that the Australian government has not taken any meaningful action to stop the flow of revenue to the board, including sanctioning war criminal and commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing even though almost a year has passed. since trying. knock”.

“Australia is now even lagging behind the oil majors when it comes to action in Myanmar.”

Clancy Moore, Australian director of the Publish What You Pay anti-corruption coalition, welcomed Woodside’s action, but said other Australian companies should also pull out and the government should take action against the regime by sanctioning its generals.

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“Governments, including Australia, have yet to introduce sanctions to stem the flow of oil, gas and mining revenues that fund the military… to wage war against the people of Myanmar.”

Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch, said Woodside’s departure after Total and Chevron underscored the need for coordinated and targeted sanctions from the US, EU, Australia, UK, Japan and other governments. concerned about Myanmar’s natural gas revenues.

“The Myanmar military will continue to collect massive revenues from natural gas and other extractive sectors unless new targeted sanctions block foreign currency payments, because other companies will take over their operations. Sanctions against MOGE and other military-controlled entities are now urgently needed.”

Pearson said the departure of the Myanmar energy companies would be just gestures as long as the board continued to make money.

“The United States, the European Union, Australia and others must impose measures that will have a real economic impact on the junta, if there is to be any progress on human rights.”

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