Chevron Hands Over Stake in Myanmar Gas Field to Junta, PTTEP

(Reuters) — U.S. energy company Chevron has quit the Yadana natural gas field in Myanmar, a spokesperson said on Monday, more than two years after it condemned violence and human rights abuses there and announced it would leave.

Rather than being sold, Chevron's 41.1% stake in the gas field was redistributed to the remaining shareholders, Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production and state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

PTTEP, operator of the gas field, said on Friday its stake in Yadana had increased to 62.96%.

"The withdrawal gives effect to our intention to exit Myanmar in a controlled and orderly manner, following the February 2021 coup, and ongoing humanitarian crisis," a Chevron spokesperson said.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the army overthrew the elected government in 2021. A crackdown on dissidents has since given rise to a nationwide resistance movement backed by several ethnic minority armies.

Located in the Gulf of Martaban, the Yadana field has produced around 6 billion cubic meters (212 billion cubic feet) per year of gas, 70% of which has been exported to Thailand and about 30% supplied for domestic use to MOGE.

MOGE was seized by the junta through its 2021 attempted coup.

Chevron had said in January 2022 it would exit Myanmar and in February 2023 said it had agreed to sell its assets there, including its stake in the Yadana gas field, but instead has withdrawn.

Rights groups and United Nations experts have accused Myanmar's military of committing atrocities against civilians in its efforts to crush the resistance.

The junta says it is fighting "terrorists" and has ignored international calls to cease hostilities.

In 2021, French oil and gas group TotalEnergies and Chevron suspended some payments from Yadana that would have reached Myanmar's junta, earning praise from pro-democracy activists. TotalEnergies withdrew in 2022.

Justice for Myanmar, a non-profit group, said Chevron exited following sustained civil society pressure over payments from the gas project to the Myanmar junta.

Chevron said it has conducted its "exit from Myanmar in a responsible, orderly and safe manner, in accordance with international law and trade sanctions.”

The administration of President Joe Biden last November imposed sanctions on certain financial services by Americans to MOGE, in the first direct action on the enterprise aimed at weakening the military junta that controls it.

The U.S. Treasury said it would not comment on an individual company's circumstances.

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