Total, Chevron suspend payments to Myanmar military

Energy giants Chevron and Total suspended a portion of their payments to Myanmar's military on Wednesday.

The companies have come under pressure from activists for putting profits above Myanmar's people, as payments continued to flow to the military government that seized power on February 1 in a coup.

Total said in a statement the decision to suspend cash distributions was made after a meeting with shareholders of the joint venture pipeline linking to the Yadana gas field. That gas field is located off the southwest coast of Myanmar and connects to Thailand.

The company said the decision was made in light of the "unstable context" and condemned the violence and human rights abuses occurring in the country.

Total has the largest stake in the pipeline of 31 percent, followed by Chevron, as well as Thai company PTTEP and military-controlled Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise has the remaining 15 percent.

It rakes in annual revenues of around $1 billion dollars for sales of natural gas and oil, according to rights group Justice For Myanmar.

A spokesperson from that group welcomed the decision, but pointed out that it is only a "minor portion of the revenue that the military is receiving from Total’s operations in Myanmar."

The other revenues include the state’s share of gas revenues, royalties and corporate income taxes. Total said it was continuing to maintain the production of the Yadana gas field "so as not to disrupt the electricity supply that is vital to the local populations of Myanmar and Thailand."

Chevron in a statement said: "The humanitarian crisis in Myanmar requires a collective response to improve the welfare of the people of Myanmar."

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