Why TotalEnergies is leaving Myanmar


Following the coup of February 1, 2021 in Myanmar, TotalEnergies has on several occasions firmly condemned the abuses and human rights violations taking place there.

Since then, our decisions have been guided by clear principles: to halt all our ongoing projects, but to continue to produce gas from the Yadana field, which is essential for supplying electricity to the Burmese and Thai population; to protect our employees from the risk of criminal prosecution or forced labour; to limit the financial flows to the national oil company MOGE. And since we could not avoid paying the taxes that we owed, I announced that TotalEnergies would donate a sum equal to the taxes that the Company had to pay to the Myanmar state to human rights organizations in Myanmar which we have done.

Despite the action taken, we see that TotalEnergies has not been able to meet the expectations of many of the stakeholders we are in contact with. Several shareholders and civil society organizations, both international and Burmese, are asking us to end the flow of revenues to the Burmese state through the state-owned company MOGE. We have been widely criticized, even though it was materially and legally impossible for us to stop these payments, since most of the payments for gas sales are made directly by the Thai company PTT that purchases the exported gas.

At the same time, we asked the French authorities to consider putting in place targeted sanctions on these financial flows. The purpose of these sanctions would have been to lock all the revenues of the various Yadana partners into escrow accounts, without penalizing the population by shutting down gas production. Unfortunately, this course of action was unsuccessful because we were not able to identify any means for doing so, given that the potential EU sanctions cannot apply to foreign entities.

After the dilemmas that I have stated in April 21, we must acknowledge that we have now reached an impasse. While we consider that our presence in a country allows us to promote our values, even beyond our direct sphere of operations, the situation in Myanmar has kept deteriorating, in terms of human rights and the rule of law. We have therefore reassessed the situation, which no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in this country.

In such context, after examining every alternative, I have decided with regret but in full responsibility that TotalEnergies will cease all its activities in Myanmar and withdraw from the Yadana field at the end of the contractual six-month period. This decision is consistent with our commitment to put sustainable development and human rights at the heart of TotalEnergies' strategy, projects and operations. During this transition time, TotalEnergies will continue to act as a responsible operator, to ensure the supply of energy to the population concerned.

Leaving a country where our company has been present for thirty years is not a decision taken lightly, all the less since we had been in a privileged position to witness the progress made by the Burmese institutions in the last ten years before the coup of February 2021. I sincerely hope that our decision will serve as a clear signal to all stakeholders involved in order to preserve the life and dignity of the Myanmar citizens.

Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies