According to tax records obtained by The Guardian, in the two years following a ruthless junta’s takeover of Myanmar, some of the largest oil and gas service companies in the world have continued to profit handsomely from projects that have supported the military government.
The United Nations’ special rapporteur on Myanmar said that since the military took over in February 2021, it is “committing war crimes and crimes against humanity daily.”
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, more than 2,940 individuals have been slain, including children, pro-democracy activists, and other civilians, The Guardian report adds.
In the midst of this unrest, it appears that US, UK, and Irish oil and gas field contractors – who offer vital drilling and other services to Myanmar’s gas field operators – continued to make millions of dollars in profit in the nation after the coup. This information comes from leaked Myanmar tax records and other reports.
Investigative journalism organization Finance Uncovered, The Guardian, and the Myanmar advocacy group Justice for Myanmar all conducted analyses of the records after they were obtained by the transparency non-profit Distributed Denial of Secrets.
The documents indicate that, in some cases, the subsidiaries of major US gas field service companies continued to operate in Myanmar despite the US State Department’s warning that there were significant risks associated with doing business there in January of last year. This included working with state-owned companies that financially support the junta, like the national oil and gas company Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
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More Myanmar-related sanctions were issued by the US, UK, Australia, and Canada on Tuesday, including those affecting the managing director and deputy managing director of MOGE. However, they refrained from sanctioning MOGE specifically.
In view of the “intensifying human rights violations in Myanmar” and the “substantial resources” MOGE offers the junta, the European Union was the first region to issue penalties against MOGE itself in February.
European businesses are unable to participate in oil and gas field development projects in Myanmar due to EU sanctions. However, such regulations have not yet been implemented by the US or the UK, and such work, which may involve transactions with MOGE directly or indirectly, is not forbidden, The Guardian reports.
According to The Guardian, tax documents that were leaked reveal:
-- The Singapore-based company of US oil services firm Halliburton, Myanmar Energy Services, recorded pre-tax earnings of $6.3 million in Myanmar for the year ending in September 2021, which included eight months when the junta was in power.
-- In the six months leading up to March 2022, Baker Hughes, an oil services business with headquarters in Houston, recorded pre-tax profits of $2.64 million in Myanmar.
-- In the fiscal year that ended in September 2021, the US company Diamond Offshore Drilling recorded $37 million in fees, followed by another $24.2 million from October 2021 to March 2022.
The involvement of western gas field contractors in Myanmar's gas and oil business after the coup, according to activists, renders them complicit in the junta's aggressive campaign.
Both US-based Chevron and France’s Total, which have long been criticized for running gas projects there, announced last January that they were leaving Myanmar.
The US has imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s state-owned gems, pearl, and timber sectors, but Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, a key in the junta’s main source of foreign income, is still unaffected, according to The Guardian report.