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Yadana Gas field and pipeline, Myanmar

US oil giant Chevron and other companies and their business in Burma after a provision to stop operating was removed from the latest round of US sanctions on the country, aggravating the violence of Burmese regime


The Yadana gas field is an offshore gas field in the Andaman Sea. It is located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) offshore to the nearest landfall in Myanmar. The project has been developed in partnership with local communities and western oil companies with the objective of involving local communities and protecting the environment. The Yadana gas field and pipelines are operated by Total S.A., with Chevron Corporation as its junior partner along with PTT, a Thai state-owned oil and gas company, and Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), a state-owned enterprise of Myanmar. The operator of the gas field is Total. Since the project’s beginnings in the early 1990s, it has been marred by serious and widespread human rights abuses committed by pipeline security forces on behalf of the companies, including forced labor, land confiscation, forced relocation, rape, torture, murder. Many of these abuses continue today.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Yadana Gas field and pipeline, Myanmar
Location of conflict:Offshore
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

million cubic feet per day (in 2009) The major part of the project construction was 412 km of pipelines -- mostly undersea with the final 63 km (39 miles) crossing the Tenasserim region of southern Burma, to Ban-I-Tong at the Thai-Burma border. The Thai portion of the pipeline, from the border to the Ratchaburi power plant, is the responsibility of the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT), which is purchasing the Yadana gas.

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:10/1996
Company names or state enterprises:Total SA from France
Petroleum Authority of Thailand Exploration & Production (PTTEP) from Thailand
Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) from Myanmar
Chevron Polska Energy Resources Sp. z o.o. from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Earth Rights International
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Myanmar refugees
The Karen
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Other Environmental impactstoxic wastes
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Out of court settlement
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:In 2005, Unocal (part of Chevron) settled two lawsuits out of court filed in the United States of America by villagers in Myanmar alleging human rights abuse by the company during the construction of the pipeline.
Regarding the Belgian case, a procedural issue arose as to whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring the lawsuit because they were not Belgian citizens. In April 2005, the Court of Arbitration (Cour d’arbitrage, renamed the Constitutional Court in May 2007) ruled that the exclusion of refugees from access to the provisions of the law on universal jurisdiction was unconstitutionally discriminatory. However, in June 2005, the Cour de cassation (court of highest appeal) dismissed the proceedings against Total, disregarding the ruling by the Court of Arbitration. In June 2006, the Constitutional Court struck the provision of the universal jurisdiction law that barred non-citizens from bringing lawsuits under the law. In March 2007, the Court de Cassation dismissed the entire proceeding, ruling that it could only continue on the basis of a law modified by the Constitutional Court if the modification favored the defense (in this case, Total). In October 2007, based on the universal jurisdiction law as modified by the Constitutional Court, the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office opened a new investigation into this case. The Belgian authorities declared the case closed in March 2008, dropping the case against Total.
The US oil giant Chevron is continuing to do business in Burma after a provision to stop it operating there was removed from the latest round of US sanctions on the country.
The new sanctions plan, approved on the 22 July 2008 by Congress and expected to receive quick approval from the White House, prevents the sale of Burmese gems and timber in the US via third parties – bringing the US into line with EU and Canadian policy. Profits from those products have enriched Burma's oppressive military regime.
But Congress chose not to sanction Chevron, the largest US business still operating in Burma. An early version of the plan would have forced the company to give up its 28% stake in the Yadana natural gas field, which the regime considers a crucial political priority.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

1993 Belgian law of universal jurisdiction

Doe v. Unocal Case
[click to view]

EarthRights International, Doe v. Unocal Case History
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Earthrights International - July 5, 2010, Energy Insecurity: How Total, Chevron, and PTTEP Contribute to Human Rights Violations, Financial Secrecy, and Nuclear Proliferation in Burma (Myanmar)
[click to view]

Stephen Ogunlana, Thanate Yotsinsa and Silas Yisa, An assement of people’s satisfaction with the public hearing on the Yadana Natural Gas Pipeline Project, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 207-225, November 2001.
[click to view]

An Assessment of People's Satisfaction with the Public Hearing on the Yadana Natural Gas Pipeline Project

Stephen Ogunlana, Thanate Yotsinsak, Silas Yisa
[click to view], Yadana Gas Field, Myanmar
[click to view]

Benjamin K. Sovacool, Reassessing Energy Security and the Trans-ASEAN Natural Gas Pipeline Network in Southeast Asia, Pacifi c Affairs: Volume 82, No. 3 Fall 2009 (pdf)
[click to view]

Summary of Doe v. Unocal lawsuit
[click to view]

EarthRights International, The Yadana Pipeline
[click to view]

EarthRights International, Background of the Yadana Pipeline
[click to view]

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Total lawsuit in Belgium (re Myanmar), 18 February 2014
[click to view]

Yen Snaing, Sacked Yadana Pipeline Workers Seek Compensation from Total, THE IRRAWADDY, February 10, 2015
[click to view]

Summary of the lawsuit against Total, and news articles available here:
[click to view]

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Unocal lawsuit (re Myanmar), 18 February 2014
[click to view]

Elana Schor, US removes oil giant from Burma sanctions, The Guardian, 23 July 2008
[click to view]

Kyaw Hsu Mon, Domestic Energy Firm Unearths Major Gas Find, THE IRRAWADDY, January 5, 2016.
[click to view]

Aung Shin, Oil and gas stumbles with price drop, Myanmar Times, 11 September 2015
[click to view]

EarthRights International, The Human Cost of Energy: Chevron’s Continuing Role in Financing Oppression and Profiting From Human Rights Abuses in Military-Ruled Burma (Myanmar), April 2008.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Docu movie "Total Denial", by Milena Kaneva
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Elodie Aba
Last update15/03/2018
Conflict ID:842
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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