Business News: French energy giant Total stops payments for pipeline in Myanmar.
Shareholders of French energy company Total SA voted to suspend dividend payments to stakeholders in the joint venture operating a gas pipeline in Myanmar, the company said Wednesday.
Pressure has increased on companies with Myanmar military-related investments or businesses to suspend their financial support after the February 1 coup. The Yadana pipeline is partly owned by Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprises, a government-controlled entity.
The decision was retroactive from April 1, it said. “All cash distributions by MGTC to its shareholders (Total (31.24%), Chevron (28.26%), PTTEP (25.5%) and MOGE (15%)) are suspended,” he said. . PTTEP is a Thai company.
Total is still running the pipeline, however, keeping the gas supply constant “so as not to interrupt the supply of electricity which is vital for the local populations of Myanmar and Thailand,” he said. The company said it needs to protect its workers from repercussions of any move to suspend its operations in the country.
Human rights group Justice for Myanmar noted that the dividend suspension represents a fraction of the funds paid to the government from the pipeline, which includes millions of taxes, royalties and the government’s share of gas revenues.
The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other European governments have imposed sanctions in an attempt to push the junta to release the hundreds of people it has arrested and restore the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. But such actions had limited effect as they targeted national military-controlled companies and the travel and overseas assets of junta leadership members, military personnel and their family members.
Among other things, critics of the junta have urged many companies to withdraw or stop payments that could support the Myanmar military, which has large stakes dominating its economy.
This includes banks that provide finance to companies that work or pay rent to military-affiliated companies and pension funds that are invested in dozens of companies.