Jan 27 (Reuters) - Woodside Petroleum on Thursday joined multinational oil majors Chevron and TotalEnergies in plans to exit Myanmar, nearly a year after a military coup plunged the Southeast Asian nation into turmoil.
Since the coup, Myanmar security forces have killed more than 1,400 people and arrested thousands, local non-governmental organisation Assistance Association for Political Prisoners has said. The military government disputes the figures.
International companies doing business in the country have come under pressure from rights groups to review their operations to stop payments flowing to a military government that seized power on Feb. 1.
The oil and gas sector is one of the country’s largest sources of foreign revenue.
Nearly 60 days after the February coup, French renewable power producer Voltalia said it would withdraw from its site in the country, where it employed 43 on-site staff, mostly locals.
South Korean steelmaker Posco pledged to end a joint venture with Myanmar Economic Holdings(MEHL), a company controlled by the military.
Posco also said it did not believe its unit POSCO International’s gas projects in Myanmar had a direct link to the military.
France’s TotalEnergies and U.S. energy company Chevron said they would suspend some payments that would have reached the Myanmar military government from their Yadana gas joint venture.
But TotalEnergies also said halting production at the Yadana gas fields, which supply Thailand and Myanmar, would expose the group and workers to legal threats and penalise the region in terms of energy access.
A number of global companies, including McKinsey and Coca-Cola said they have moved out or are reviewing leases of office space on military-owned land.
Norwegian pension fund KLP said it was divesting from Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited on the grounds the company’s links with the Myanmar military breach the fund’s responsible investment policy.
Adani Ports, India’s largest port operator, planned to build a container terminal in the city of Yangon on land leased from a Myanmar military-owned conglomerate.
Norwegian telecoms company Telenor, one of Myanmar’s biggest foreign investors, said it would sell operations there to Lebanon’s M1 Group.
British American Tobacco, the maker of Lucky Strike cigarettes pledges to cease all operations in Myanmar by the end of the year.
Adani Ports said it was scrapping its Myanmar container terminal plans, weeks after applying for a U.S. licence for the project.
A Myanmar firm will take over Telenor’s business as majority shareholder in a partnership with M1 Group, sources told Reuters, after the military leaders initially rejected the deal.
Telenor agreed to sell its majority stake in Myanmar payment service Wave Money to a Singaporean firm.
TotalEnergies and Chevron, partners in the major Myanmar gas project, said they were withdrawing from the country, citing the worsening humanitarian situation following last year’s coup.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc said that it no longer held exploration licences in Myanmar as of last year.
Woodside Petroleum said it would begin its formal exit from Myanmar. The Australian gas producer will now begin the formal procedure to exit exploration assets it holds with state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise and other entities.
Compiled by Sarah Morland. Editing by Jane Merriman
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.