Saturday, October 6

Chevron uses loophole to evade US sanctions against Burma. Time for an Internet Wall of Shame.

The U.S. government has had sanctions in place against Burma since 1997. A loophole exists, though, for companies grandfathered in. Unocal's exemption from the Burmese sanctions has been passed on to its new owner, Chevron. [...]

Fueling the military junta that has ruled for decades are Burma's natural-gas reserves, controlled by the Burmese regime in partnership with the U.S. multinational oil giant Chevron, the French oil company Total and a Thai oil firm [PTTEP].

Offshore natural-gas facilities deliver their extracted gas to Thailand through Burma's Yadana pipeline. The pipeline was built with slave labor, forced into servitude by the Burmese military.

The original pipeline partner, Unocal, was sued by
EarthRights International for the use of slave labor. As soon as the suit was settled out of court, Chevron bought Unocal.

Chevron's role in propping up the brutal regime in Burma is clear.

According to Marco Simons, U.S. legal director at EarthRights International: "Sanctions haven't worked because gas is the lifeline of the regime. Before Yadana went online, Burma's regime was facing severe shortages of currency. It's really Yadana and gas projects that kept the military regime afloat to buy arms and ammunition and pay its soldiers."(1)
So we can't only cast stones at China and India for propping up the junta through energy deals. Not to be outdone by Chevron and Total
The Shwe Gas Project, led by Korea’s Daewoo International, stands to earn [Burma's] regime between US$12-17 billion. Last year, the regime earned approximately US$2.2 billion in gas sales to Thailand through the Thai company PTTEP.(2)
I don't know what we're going to do with transnational companies that provide substantial revenue for the most oppressive regimes.

Maybe we need an Internet Wall of Shame, for starters. Stories about corporations that do big business with tyrants are scattered here and there, and often have to be mined through following a series of Internet links. And many such stories only make their way into publication when they can be used to embarrass a particular administration, political party or candidate. It's time for a website that focuses exclusively on such stories.

The site could publish and update a country-by-country rundown on corporations that are the biggest offenders in doing business with oppressive regimes.

1) Seattle PI via Burma NewsLadder.

2) SGM Demands India Suspend Oil and Gas Deals in Burma

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