EarthRights International released an explosive new report Energy Insecurity: How Total, Chevron, and PTTEP Contribute to Human Rights Violations, Financial Secrecy, and Nuclear Proliferation in Burma (Myanmar) on July 5, 2010 in Paris. The report describes how the oil companies Total (France), Chevron (US), and PTTEP (Thailand) have generated over US $9 billion dollars in military-ruled Burma (Myanmar) since 1998, making their Yadana Natural Gas Project the single largest source of revenue for the country’s notoriously repressive dictatorship.
The report documents how over half the total project revenue — nearly $5 billion — went directly to the Burmese military junta, and examines recent refusals from the Yadana companies to disclose their payments to the Burmese military regime. The report alleges the funds have enabled the country’s autocratic junta to maintain power and pursue an expensive, illegal nuclear weapons program while participating in illicit weapons trade in collaboration with North Korea, threatening the domestic and regional security balance.
In the report, EarthRights International further asserts that gas revenues are stored in private offshore bank accounts, where the money “could be used for many purposes, including the illicit acquisition of nuclear technology and ballistic weaponry.” This follows a report by ERI in 2009 that exposed two offshore banks in Singapore as repositories of the Burmese generals’ ill-gotten gains from foreign investment including the gas project. Both named banks – the Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and DBS Group – previously denied the allegations.
The report also reveals on-going, serious human rights abuses associated with the Yadana project, including the recent extra-judicial killing of two ethnic Mon villagers in the pipeline area confirmed by EarthRights International in February of this year. The report goes on to analyzes how both Total and Chevron remain liable for these and other serious human rights abuse in their home countries.
EarthRights International previously sued Unocal Corporation (now Chevron) for complicity in murder, rape, torture, and forced labor in connection to the same gas pipeline. In 2005, Unocal paid Burmese plaintiffs a confidential settlement before the company was acquired by Chevron.