Oil and Gas Companies are financing Myanmar’s Military Junta



Project risks:

Conflict/Violence, Environmental Destruction, Social Harm


  • Posco International Corporation
  • Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE)
  • PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Ltd (PTTEP)
  • China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC)
  • Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC)
  • Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS)
  • JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation
  • GAIL (India) Ltd
  • PTT Public Company Ltd
  • China ZhenHua Oil Co Ltd

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After ten years of democratic reforms oil and gas companies are once again financing Myanmar’s military junta.14571 According to former Member of Parliament U Tun Win, as well as national and international NGOs, the generals in power are using this gas money to kill the people of Myanmar.[1]

On February 1 2021, the Myanmar military attempted to take over the country’s democratic institutions.[2]15427 The soldiers put the government leader Aung San Suu Kyi in prison.[3] To protest against the takeover, the people of Myanmar immediately took to the streets.[4] While their resistance was initially peaceful, the military's reaction was not.[5] Since February 2021, the soldiers have killed at least 4,160 people and arrested 25,353 protestors.15427 The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, has been clear about the gravity of the military’s violent and oppressive campaign against Myanmar’s people: “The military’s attacks on the people of Myanmar constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. No one has been spared the impact of the military’s violence.”15427

Despite the soldiers’ violence, the people of Myanmar are standing up against the military takeover. Credit: Htin Linn Aye, licensed under CC BY-SA

This is not the first time the generals rule Myanmar. From 1962 to 2011, Myanmar’s people lived under the dictatorship of the same military.[8] Then and now, oil and gas companies have helped to prop up the military. To be allowed to produce fossil fuels in Myanmar, companies have to pay a share of their revenue to the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).[9] MOGE is a state-owned company involved in all oil and gas projects in Myanmar. According to the UN Special Rapporteur, MOGE is “the single largest source of revenue to the state”.15427 When the military junta attempted to take over the democratic institutions of Myanmar, it also put MOGE under its control.15427 Much of the gas money that fossil fuel companies pay to MOGE thus flows straight to the military junta.15427

International oil and gas companies have paid MOGE hundreds of millions of US dollars over the past years.15427 The Yadana gas project is most likely the biggest money source of them all.15427 The Yadana field lies in the Andaman Sea off the Myanmar coast. Two pipelines transport gas away from the field. One of them, the Yadana Gas Pipeline runs through Myanmar’s vibrant tropical rainforest to Thailand. The pipeline from the Yetagun gas field follows a similar path through the forest. In 1992, fossil fuel companies began to produce gas at the Yadana field. For nearly two decades, money flowed from TotalEnergies and its partners Chevron and PTTEP through MOGE to the junta.15427 Following the second coup in 2021, the generals again began profiting from Yadana's millions.15427

The name Yadana means treasure in Burmese, but the project has only been a treasure for the generals and foreign companies.15427 Right from the beginning, companies worked hand in hand with the military junta.15427 To make space for what was then Total and Chevron’s pipeline, the soldiers drove people out of their homes and villages and restricted the movements of those who remained.1542715427 They forced people to carry their weapons, construction equipment and rice for days on end, often without providing food or water.15427 Along the pipeline corridor, they made locals build roads, military barracks, police stations and helicopter landing pads for company executives.154271542715427 If the people refused to work for the military, they had to pay penalty fees until they had no money left.15427 If they worked for the soldiers, they couldn’t work on their farms.15427 Often, in one way or another, they lost their homes and their livelihoods and ended up in refugee camps and deep poverty.1542715427 Young girls and women reported being raped and tortured along the pipeline corridor.15427 The soldiers randomly beat, tortured, and murdered many people.15427 These men were part of the same military that now has a stranglehold on the country.

As more and more international companies leave Myanmar, Thai government-linked company PTTEP is ready to benefit from the situation.15427 The company wants to expand its gas production and develop a gas to power project.15427 However, this did not go unnoticed. In early 2023, Myanmar’s civilian National Unity Government sent a letter to PTTEP demanding them to stop payments to MOGE.15427

The oil and gas companies that have left Myanmar only began pulling out following extensive public pressure.15427 TotalEnergies exited the country in July 2022, one and a half years after the attempted coup.15427 Chevron and JX Nippon followed in 2023.1542715427
At that point, the companies had been helping to finance the junta for 2 whole years. The companies’ late exit will not bring back the dead, and it will not protect Myanmar’s people in future. TotalEnergies in fact handed over parts of its ownership shares in the Yadana gas field to MOGE.15427 This way, TotalEnergies’ withdrawal could make the military junta earn even more money.15427 Chevron sold its stakes to MTI, a Canadian company. Together with PTTEP, MTI will now extract the Yadana gas and share its revenues with MOGE.15427 Other companies, including Woodside, Petronas and ENEOS also declared that they will end their operations in Myanmar.154271542715427 Some only left because the gas reserves in the Yetagun field are no longer economically viable.15427 Civil society organizations are urging the companies to exit responsibly and take appropriate steps to close the field. Only this way would the companies ensure that future revenues of the gas fields do not fill the junta’s coffers.15427154271542715427 PTTEP, CNPC, and Korea Gas Corporation still produce fossil fuels in Myanmar.15427 Every day, gas money continues to finance the military’s brutality against the people of Myanmar.


The companies listed here produced oil & gas in Myanmar in 2022. Other international companies, like Eni, still hold exploration licenses in the country but do not (yet) produce. https://www.eni.com/en-IT/eni-worldwide/asia-pacific/myanmar.html
We refer to the situation in Myanmar as an attempted coup. The ongoing resistance against the military prevents the coup from succeeding.
https://aappb.org/?p=26432 (updated daily, figures from 27 October 2023).
https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/total-impact.pdf p. 13
https://earthrights.org/publication/the-true-cost-of-chevron-may-2010/ p. 28
https://earthrights.org/publication/another-yadana/ p. 2
https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/total-impact.pdf p. 29
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14672715.1998.10411049 p. 6
https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/total-impact.pdf p. 20
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14672715.1998.10411049 p. 6
https://earthrights.org/publication/total-denial-continues/ p. 101-103
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14672715.1998.10411049 p. 7
https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/publications/total-impact.pdf p. 44
https://earthrights.org/publication/total-denial-continues/ p. 112-113
For a list of the main oil & gas actors still present in Myanmar, see: https://justiceformyanmar.org/stories/the-international-oilfield-services-compa…