Statement | March 23, 2021

Open letter: Chevron's business operations in Myanmar

We write in regards to Chevron’s business in Myanmar through its wholly-owned subsidiary (Unocal Myanmar Offshore Co. Limited - Unocal) and the recent coup d’etat by the Myanmar military.

The people of Myanmar strongly oppose the military coup. This is evidenced by nationwide protests including people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities and professions as well as tens of thousands of public servants participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) against the Myanmar military coup. The CDM is intended to disrupt the military regime’s ability to control the country, including limiting its ability to collect revenue.

The international community has also condemned the coup and human rights abuses by the military: the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council convened a Special Session on Myanmar; the UN Security Council has expressed “deep concern”; Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States of America (US) issued targeted sanctions against military leaders; and the European Union (EU) has condemned the military coup “in the strongest terms.”

The Myanmar ambassador to the UN, U Kyaw Moe Tun, has also called on the international community to not recognize the junta and to take the strongest possible actions against the military, a call echoed by the UN’s Special Envoy on Myanmar who has asked “How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?”; South Korea has suspended defense exchanges and the Australian government has suspended military cooperation; New Zealand has suspended all diplomatic relations with Myanmar; Myanmar has been suspended from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; and both the World Bank and Asian Development Bank have suspended sovereign lending to Myanmar.

Based on this context, we, the undersigned organizations and concerned individuals, call on Chevron and its partners to use their ownership stakes in joint ventures with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) to ensure that payments of royalties and other revenues are not made to MOGE. Instead, companies should make revenue payments into protected accounts until such time as the legitimate and democratically elected government is returned.

According to revenue figures from FY2019-2020, oil and gas revenues provided Myanmar with USD 1.5 billion in annual income, with around 80% of that income derived from the offshore gas sector. MOGE, the Myanmar state-owned oil and gas company, collects much of that income through its joint ventures and revenue sharing agreements with international corporations, including Chevron. Even though MOGE has long been one of the most opaque economic actors in Myanmar, all offshore and onshore gas and oil contracts include a production or profit-sharing arrangement with MOGE. 

Chevron’s most significant stake in Myanmar’s oil and gas sector is through the Yadana offshore gas project located off the southwest coast of Myanmar. Total, Chevron, MOGE, and Thai-owned PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP) jointly own the project, which is a huge source of revenue for the Myanmar government--according to the 2016/17 MEITI report, the Yadana project accounted for 42% of total oil and gas production from offshore projects. According to Reuters, Chevron’s participating interest in the Yadana project likely generated nearly $600 million in payments to MOGE between 2015-2019.

Chevron and its partners must use their ownership stakes in joint ventures with MOGE to ensure that these payments of royalties and other revenues are not made to MOGE. These revenues are at high risk of being misappropriated and used to fund the operations of the Myanmar military as well as the illegitimate military regime, and could be used to support military operations and interests, including the generals and military units responsible for the coup and recent atrocities against the Rohingya, other ethnic groups, and against those participating in the CDM. Neither the U.S. nor any other government - nor the U.N. - has formally recognized the military regime as the Government of Myanmar, thus any money paid over to the regime may be assisting in the theft of Myanmar’s public assets. 

Thus far, Chevron has responded to the coup in a letter on 12 February and a joint statement on 18 February, saying that it adheres to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and that it will work to “promote responsible investment and locally support business practices” in Myanmar. We note, however, that Chevron’s main local business partner is MOGE, a government entity run by an appointee nominated by the previous military-led government that has a history of being used during military rule to misappropriate potentially billions of dollars of funds.

In the present context, if no action is taken, Chevron and its joint venture partners will be paying hundreds of millions of dollars into accounts that are now controlled by that same military, a military whose leadership is on trial in international courts for committing genocide and that has now killed over 250 protestors. This would run counter to the UN Guiding Principles, which require Chevron to seek to prevent adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their business relationships. 

We therefore support calls from Myanmar civil society and the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw not to legitimize the junta and for Chevron and other companies in the oil & gas sector to ensure that money from the oil and gas industry does not go to the MOGE or the military. Chevron and its partners must use their position in joint ventures with MOGE to suspend all payments to the Myanmar government and make revenue payments into protected accounts until a legitimate, democratically elected government is in place.

We encourage you to publicly support a return to democracy and civilian-led government and an end to military involvement in Myanmar's civilian politics and to recognize what has happened as a coup, rather than referring to it as "the current situation" as articled in your 12 February statement. We request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these matters.

Yours sincerely,

Organizations

Academics Stand Against Poverty

All Arakan Students' and Youths' Congress (AASYC)

Amazon Watch

Another Development

Arakan Rivers Network (ARN)

Australia Karen Organisation

Australian Centre for International Justice

Australian Council for International Development

Back Pace Health Worker Team

Beautiful Trouble

Burma Campaign UK

Burma Medical Association

Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan

Calgary Karen Community Association (CKCA)

California Karen Youth Forum

California Shan Social & Cultural Society, USA

Campaign for a New Myanmar

Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights

Centre National d'appui au développement et à la participation populaire , CENADEP

Change the Chamber 

Civil Liberties Defense Center

Civil society groups in Myanmar

Coalition for Integrity

CODEPINK for Peace

Collectif HAMEB France

Corporate Accountability Lab

DEEKU-Karenni Community of Amarillo

EarthRights International

Edmonton Karen Community Youth Organization

EnergyTransparency Association, Ukraine

European Karen Network

FracTracker Alliance

Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)

Friends of the Earth Australia

Fund Our Future

Global Witness

Heartland Initiative, Inc.

Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)

Info-Birmanie (France)

Institute for Asian Democracy

Inter Pares

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

International Accountability Project

International Campaign for the Rohingya

International Karen Organization

Kansas Karenni community

Karen Affairs Committee

Karen Community of Canada (KCC)

Karen Community of Czech Republic

Karen Community of Finland

Karen Community of Hamilton

Karen Community of Ireland

Karen Community of Israel

Karen Community of Kitchener & Waterloo

Karen Community of Leamington

Karen Community of Lethbridge

Karen Community of London

Karen Community of Ottawa

Karen Community of Regina

Karen Community of Saskatoon

Karen Community of Thunderbay

Karen Community of Toronto

Karen Community of Windsor

Karen Community of Winnipeg

Karen Community Society of British Columbia (KCSBC)

Karen Environmental and Social Action

Karen Human Rights Group

Karen Organization for Relief and Development

Karen Organization of America

Karen Organization of America

Karen Peace Support Network

Karen River Watch

Karen Student Association, Omaha, NE

Karen Student Network Group

Karen Swedish Community

Karen Teacher Working Group

Karen Thai Group

Karen Women Organization

Karen Youth Network

Karen Youth of Norway

Karen Youth of Toronto

Karen Youth Organization

Karenni Community of Arizona

Karenni Community of Arkensas

Karenni Community of Austin

Karenni Community of Bowling Green (KY)

Karenni Community of Buffalo (NY)

Karenni Community of Chicago

Karenni Community of Colorado

Karenni Community of Dallas

Karenni community of Des Moines

Karenni Community of Florida

Karenni Community of Fort Worth

Karenni Community of Georgia

Karenni Community of Houston

Karenni Community of Idaho

Karenni Community of Indianapolis

Karenni Community of Massachusetts

Karenni Community of Michigan

Karenni community of Minnesota

Karenni Community of Missouri

Karenni Community of North Carolina

Karenni Community of Portland

Karenni Community of Portland

Karenni Community of Rockford

Karenni Community of Rockford

Karenni Community of San Antonio

Karenni Community of Sioux Falls, SD

Karenni Community of Utah

Karenni Community of Utica, NY

Karenni Community of Washington

Karenni Community of Wisconsin

Karenni Refugees Committed (KnRC)

Karenni Society of Omaha (NE)

Karenni-American Association

Korea Karen Organization

Korea Karen Youth Organization

Market Forces

Maryknoll Sisters

Maven Women

Media Alliance

Mekong Watch

Mineral Inheritors Rights Association

Missionary Oblates

Mosquito Fleet

Never Again Coalition

New Rules for Global Finance

No Business with Genocide

Open Net Association (Korea)

Oversea Karen Organization Japan

Portland Rising Tide

Progressive Voice

Project Blueprint

Project Maje

Publish What You Pay Australia

Publish What You Pay International

Publish What You Pay Uganda

Publish What You Pay United States

Recourse

Shadow World Investigations (SWI)

SumOfUs

Swedish Burma Committee

The Future We Need

The PLAN: Public Legal Aid Network

U.S. Campaign for Burma

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA

Union of Concerned Scientists

Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania

Wacam


Individuals

Shaazka Beyerle, Author, Curtailing Corruption: People Power for Accountability and Justice 

Elaine Chan, Pax Christi Metro New York

Patricia Constantino, Pax Christi Metro New York

M. Doretta Cornell, Sisters of the Divine Compassion

Jean Fallon, Member, Maryknoll Sisters

Mary Geraghty, Pax Christi

Patrick Henry

Michael Hogan, Orangetown Democratic Committee 

Michael Jarvis

Mary Johnson, Pax Christi & Wespac

Kathleen Kanet, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary

Patricia Krasnausky, Pax Christi

Michael Moran, St. Francis Xavier TC Church, NYC

Mary Mullady, Pax Christi

Thomas Pogge, Yale University

Hedy Rudne

Nate Sibley, Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative

Alberto Turlon

Jodi Vittori

Pichamon Yeophantong, University of New South Wales (Canberra)

/ ENDS