Chevron is lobbying Biden administration officials against imposing sanctions on Myanmar’s state-owned oil and gas company.
The lobbyists have been sent by Chevron to various agencies, including the State Department, according to The New York Times. The newspaper attributed the information to four people familiar with the lobbying effort.
Chevron has also sent lobbyists to key congressional offices warning against sanctions that could disrupt operations in Myanmar.
Chevron says sanctions could jeopardize the long-term viability of a big Myanmar gas field in which it is a partner. It could also worsen the humanitarian crisis for people who depend on the operation for power and possibly expose the company’s employees to criminal charges.
At stake is the company’s longstanding relations with Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, a state-owned company closely connected to the military generals who took power on Feb. 1.
A large source of revenue for the military is a gas field known as Yadana. The field has been operated by the French energy company Total S.A. in partnership with a Thai-owned oil and gas company, Myanmar’s state-owned company and Chevron.
Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise is predicted to collect at least $536 million worth of gas and revenue from the operation of the Yadana field, the Times noted.
And key Democrats, diplomats and human rights activists are pushing the administration to impose sanctions on the state-owned company.
Chevron, after taxes and other payments to the Myanmar government, has been seeing profits of $100 million to $150 million a year from its stake in Yadana.
Late last month, President Joe Biden decried the bloodshed against anti-coup protesters in Myanmar as “absolutely outrageous.” His comments came after security forces killed more than 100 people — including at least seven children — AFP reported.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military ousted and detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The action sparked mass protests by those demanding a return to democracy.
On March 27, at least 107 people were killed across Myanmar as security forces opened fire on protesters.
“It’s terrible,” Biden told reporters.
“It’s absolutely outrageous and based on the reporting I’ve gotten, an awful lot of people have been killed totally unnecessarily.”
And the Times said since the takeover, the military has killed an estimated 740 people and detained thousands.
The Times said the Treasury Department declined comment on Chevron’s lobbying efforts and the possibility of sanctions on Myanmar’s oil and gas industry.
A spokesman for Chevron said in a statement that “we condemn the human rights abuses in Myanmar and we support the people of the country on their journey to a modern, peaceful and prosperous democracy.”