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French oil majorThe general SE must continue to produce gas in Myanmar and pay taxes to the military junta to protect staff from forced labor and safeguard electricity supplies, Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said in an article in Le Journal du Dimanche.
Amid calls not to provide funding for the military, which ousted Myanmar’s parliament on February 1, Total is scrapping plans to develop gas off the west coast and halting the gas well drilling campaign, Pouyanne said. He added that Total would donate the equivalent of the taxes owed to human rights associations.
Stopping gas production in protest against political developments would expose workers to “a terrible situation”, the chief executive said in Sunday’s edition.
Total made that decision, Pouyanne said, “not because we want to save our profits and continue to pay taxes to the military junta. “But to ensure the safety of the people who work for us, the employees and the managers, to protect them from imprisonment or forced labor and to avoid further deterioration of people’s living conditions by depriving them of millions of electricity.”
The total has been present since 1992 in Myanmar, employing around 250 people. The Yadana offshore gas field, which Total operates under a production-sharing contract, provides half of the electricity to the city of Yangon, with a population of nearly 5 million, and supplies western Thailand, where most of the gas is exported.
Myanmar has awarded 38 offshore oil and gas blocks for major degrees, includingRoyal Dutch Shell Plc, Total,Woodside Petroleum Ltd.,China National Petroleum Corp.,Reliance Industries Ltd. ANDEni SpA over the past three decades, according to the Myanmar Ministry of Energy and Energy website.
Pouyanne said Total had not paid taxes directly to the military government since the February coup because the banking system was no longer functioning. Once restored, however, the company would have to stop producing gas if it wanted to shut down this revenue stream.
Thai authorities have also told Total that gas is a vital source of energy for their population in the west of the country, he said, adding that most taxes come from gas exports and are paid by the Thai oil group PTT Pcl.
Total has considered setting $ 4 million in monthly taxes owed to the Myanmar state in a custody account, but that would expose local executives to jail, Pouyanne said.
A group led byElectricite de France SA suspended the development of athe Myanmar hydropower project last month, citing human rights concerns. The project had not reached a final investment decision.
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