ERI Releases Burma Pipeline Contracts

EarthRights International is pleased to announce the release of key contracts governing the Yadana Pipeline project, the natural gas project that is one of the single largest sources of revenue for the Burmese military regime.  These contracts entered the public record through the partial trial of ERI's groundbreaking lawsuit Doe v. Unocal, which sought compensation for gross human rights abuses committed by Burmese security forces in the course of providing security and other services for the pipeline project.

The contracts, which were initially subject to court-ordered confidentiality, later became public documents when introduced by Unocal at trial in 2004. Doe v. Unocal ended with a landmark settlement in 2005, and ERI has continued to engage in fact-finding about the impacts of the Yadana Project and other pipeline projects, including the 2009 reports Total Impact and Getting it Wrong. After the settlement, Unocal was acquired by Chevron Corporation, which is now a partner in the Yadana Project along with France's Total, Thailand's PTTEP, and the Burmese state oil company MOGE.

ERI is releasing the contracts now to demonstrate that nothing in the contracts prohibits the Yadana Project partners from disclosing their payments to the Burmese military regime, as numerous groups recently called for.  "While these contracts do require the partners to keep confidential information that they have acquired from MOGE, nothing in them suggests that payments to the regime would qualify as confidential information, or even that the contracts themselves need to be kept confidential," said ERI Legal Director Marco Simons.

The contracts released are the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governing the Project, which was Unocal's Exhibit 1001 at trial; the Production Sharing Contract (PSC), Exhibit 1002; the Export Gas Sales Agreement (EGSA), Exhibit 1010; and the Export Gas Transportation Agreement (EGTA), Exhibit 1013.  The MOU and the PSC are the basic governing contracts for the project, which was originally known as the Moattama Gas Project.  The EGSA is an agreement governing sales of Yadana gas to PTT, the Thai company that buys the gas at the Thai-Burma border, and the EGTA is an agreement governing the pipeline itself and an entity called the Moattama Gas Transportation Company (MGTC), which the partners own.  The MOU and PSC predated Unocal's participation in the Yadana Project, but Unocal signed onto these contracts when it became a partner.  ERI believes that these contracts still apply to the project, and that Chevron has simply been substituted for Unocal.

ERI anticipates releasing more documents from the Doe v. Unocal trial in the coming months.