CANBERRA, AAP – Australia’s Woodside has announced its withdrawal from Myanmar as human rights abuses worsen under the military rulers.
The latest joint venture would have been the first ultra-deep-water development in the Bay of Bengal offshore Myanmar.
“Given the ongoing situation in Myanmar we can no longer contemplate Woodside’s participation in the development of the A-6 gas resources, nor other future activities in-country,” Woodside chief executive Meg O’Neill said in an ASX announcement on Thursday.
A year on from the coup, Total and Chevron have also announced their exit on human rights grounds.
Woodside had placed all Myanmar business decisions under review following the state of emergency declared in February 2021.
Woodside has operated in Myanmar since 2013, conducting multiple exploration and drilling campaigns.
Ms O’Neill said while Woodside had hoped to develop gas resources and deliver much-needed energy to the Myanmar people, there was no longer a viable option for Woodside to continue its activities.
Human Rights Watch has called for more action from governments to ensure gas revenues don’t fund more atrocities, and a global arms embargo by the United Nations.
“Woodside has been a responsible foreign investor in Myanmar since 2013 with our conduct guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other relevant international standards,” Ms O’Neill said.
Woodside said it will now commence arrangements to formally exit, including tearing up the production sharing contract held with a government enterprise.
The non-cash expense associated with the decision to withdraw from Blocks A-6 and AD-1 is expected to impact 2021 net profit after tax by about $US138 million ($A195 million), the company said.
This is in addition to the $US71 million exploration and evaluation expense for Block AD-7 disclosed in Woodside’s fourth quarter report last week.
These costs will be excluded for the purposes of calculating the next dividend.