It may be bloody on the streets of Burma, but its business as usual for the oil industry.

While Burma’s military junta cracks down on pro-democracy protests, oil companies are quietly jostling for access to the country’s largely untapped natural gas and oil fields.

Just last Sunday – as marches led by Buddhist monks drew thousands in the country’s biggest cities – Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora was in Burma’s capital Rangoon for the signing of contracts between state-controlled ONGC Videsh Ltd and Burma’s military rulers to explore three offshore blocks.

Meanwhile Chevron, the only US company that still has a significant presence in Burma, has issued a vague statement of support for human rights, but have so far continued to back the military junta with millions of dollars in oil and gas royalties.

Companies from China, South Korea, Thailand and elsewhere are also looking to exploit the energy resources of the desperately poor Southeast Asian country. France’s Total SA and Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd, or Petronas, currently pump gas from fields off Burma’s coast through a pipeline to Thailand, which takes 90 per cent of Burma’s gas output.

“They are funding the dictatorship,” said Marco Simons, US legal director at EarthRights International, an environmental and human rights group with offices in Thailand and Washington. “The oil and gas companies have been one of the major industries keeping the regime in power.”


Listen to or read the comments of Oil Change Board Chair Katie Redford on Democracy Now!


  • Who gives a damn about the people when there’s money to be made.

    Same old story I guess when forign companies are involved because their the real terrorists.

  • Look how the US congress goes on funding the war in Iraq.

    Look how the Defense Department contractors make so much money provided by our tax dollars.

    Look how DRE’s are being institutionalized by the House Rules Committee.

    Look how oil companies have politicians dance to their tune.

    Look how carbon fuel is spoiling our planet.


  • Human rights are the core of a peaceful existence. support human rights in Burma! Laura ziemann

  • I fully support efforts to improve human rights around the world, and I’m eager to help usher in a new era of clean and responsible energy usage. I think I’m a pretty normal person with an environmental tilt, like the rest of us on this page.

    I also happen to do a lot of work as a contractor for Chevron.

    I personally use carbon-based energy on a regular basis (hard to avoid it), and in general, I’m ok with the idea of helping to produce it, while trying to find better ways.

    However, I always flinch when I see negative news articles about Chevron. I always want to know the truth about what’s going on.

    In this case, I read the Chevron news release that Andy links to in his article above. The Chevron that is described in that news release (the one helping improve the lives of the locals) is the Chevron I hope I work for, just like all the other Chevron workers I know.

    What I’m wondering is this: are there any more (verifiable) details available to explain what Chevron is doing wrong in this situation? And what about that Chevron news release – are they really doing some good things there, or is that just a marketing spin?


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