- Does forced labor still exist in Myanmar. If so, does Total E&P Myanmar use it?
- Did the Army commit human rights violations when ensuring the security of the construction project and the facilities?
- Does Total's presence in the country support an unacceptable regime?
- Have legal proceedings been instituted against Total? What was the outcome?
- Why has Total stayed in Myanmar while many other Western companies have left?
- Is the Socio-Economic Program scaled to meet Myanmar's problems?
- Have any third parties objectively and independently tested the quantitative claims of success made by your company with respect to the socio-economic program?
- Is there any way to monitor how the revenues generated by the Yadana project are used by the Myanmar government?
Question 4. Does Total's presence in the country support an unacceptable regime?
That Total's presence in the country provides support and legitimacy to an intolerable regime.
Does Total's presence support the current regime, as claimed by activist groups that publish blacklists of Western companies operating in Myanmar, and does that make Total a passive accomplice to the actions for which the regime is condemned? These allegations must be seen in the light of a number of considerations:
- An oil or gas project involves a very long-term commitment. In the case of Myanmar, six years elapsed between the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding in July 1992 and the pipeline start-up in July 1998. Moreover, the investment outlays by Total E&P Myanmar and the other project participants cover the entire 30 years during which the field will be productive. It is difficult to predict how the country's political situation could have and will evolve over such a long period.
- Total's decision to stay in Myanmar, unlike a number of Western companies that have withdrawn, was a deliberate choice, but it does not signal approval of any regime. Rather, it expresses our deep-seated belief that economic development and human rights progress go hand in hand. Exacerbating an impoverished country's problems through an embargo will not improve its people's lives.
- In line with our underlying principles, we have always maintained a policy of non-interference with regard to the government, while actively pursuing initiatives that support economic development and respect for human rights in our host regions.
- An oil and gas company has nothing to gain from the absence of democracy. It would rather operate in a law-abiding country that is free of civil strife and not threatened by international sanctions.
- Once the installations are in place, they continue producing for the entire field life. The owners may change but the host country's revenue stream is unaffected.
It's true that oil, gas and mining operations generate considerable revenue for host countries and that these funds are less likely to be used transparently if the political system does not support open debate and effective controls.