OPINION: Almost two years to the day since the military seized power in Myanmar, Chevron has lined up a buyer for its majority stake in the producing Yadana gas field — the offshore asset that supplies vital volumes to the domestic market and neighbouring Thailand.

The US supermajor’s upcoming exit from upstream operations in the Asean nation where the security situation continues to deteriorate might please company shareholders but it has put the purchaser — Canada’s MTI Energy — under increased scrutiny of human-rights groups.

Chevron’s options to find a buyer were limited due to existing sanctions imposed by some nations against Myanmar agencies and some officials of state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise, which acts as both sector regulator and a partner in producing assets.

However, it seems that some non-governmental organisations will not rest until external funds, except targeted humanitarian aid, stop flowing into the pariah nation.

A recent investigation involving Justice for Myanmar highlighted the profits made by subsidiaries and affiliates of leading oilfield services players in the country since the 1 February 2021 coup and how their activities boost the junta’s revenues.

Meanwhile, EarthRights International has claimed that Thailand’s energy security is not dependent on pipeline gas imports from Myanmar, as is asserted by many in the industry.

There is no denying the atrocities — at least 2960 people have been killed and almost 14,000 detained since the coup, according to NGO Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

So, rather than oil and gas funds flowing directly to the junta, maybe such revenues should be placed in escrow, but turning off the taps or letting producing assets fall into disrepair helps no one.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)

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