The exit decision from oil majors came after the two companies faced increasing pressure over their role in running gas fields in Myanmar.

About 50% of Myanmar’s foreign currency comes from natural gas revenues.
About 50% of Myanmar’s foreign currency comes from natural gas revenues. (Reuters)

TotalEnergies and Chevron, two of the world's largest energy conglomerates, have said they are stopping all operations in Myanmar, citing rampant human rights abuses and deteriorating rule of law since last year's coup.

The announcement came on Friday, just a day after the French company called for international sanctions targeting the oil and gas sector, which remain one of the military government's primary sources of funding.

“Since the February 1 coup, we have seen the evolution of the country and it is clearly not favourable. The situation of rule of law and human rights in Myanmar has clearly deteriorated over months," Total said.

In a statement released shortly after Total's announcement, American energy company Chevron said it too was planning to leave “in light of circumstances.”

"In light of circumstances in Myanmar, we have reviewed our interest in the Yadana natural gas project to enable a planned and orderly transition that will lead to an exit from the country," Chevron spokesman Cameron Van Ast said in a statement.

Total and Chevron had come under increasing pressure over their role in running the offshore Yadana gas field, and Thailand’s PTT Exploration & Production.

Total has a majority stake in the venture and runs its daily operations, while Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) collects revenues on behalf of the government.

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'It's unfortunately for the long term'

Total said it would withdraw without financial compensation and hand over its interests to the other stakeholders.

"Despite the civil disobedience movements, the junta has kept power and our analysis is that it's unfortunately for the long term," the company said.

About 50% of Myanmar’s foreign currency comes from natural gas revenues, with MOGE expected to earn $1.5 billion from offshore and pipeline projects in 2021-2022, according to the Myanmar government.

Prior rounds of US and European sanctions against the Myanmar military have excluded oil and gas.

Since the February coup, Myanmar security forces have killed more than 1,400 people and arrested thousands to try to crush resistance, local non-governmental organisation Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said. The junta disputes the figures.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies