Australia’s Woodside Petroleum has decided to withdraw from its interests in Myanmar, the company said on Thursday.
The energy company had previously announced that it was placing all Myanmar business decisions under review following the coup in February 2021 and the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
Western oil giants such as Chevron and TotalEnergies said last week they are heading to the door as the human rights situation in the Southeast Asian nation deteriorates amid reports of war crimes and massacres that have included civilians, aid workers and children among the victims.
International rights groups are now ramping up pressure on Asian oil and gas conglomerates such as PTT and Posco to cut off vital revenue flowing to the junta.
Woodside has operated in Myanmar since 2013. Its shares rose 2.4% in early afternoon trading.
In 2021 the company completed the relinquishment of exploration permits covering three offshore blocks and is in the process of withdrawing from three others.
Financial Cost to Withdrawal
The withdrawal is likely to cost more than $200 million. Woodside would take a $138 million hit in addition to a $71 million exploration and evaluation expense disclosed in Woodside’s fourth-quarter report.
CEO Meg O’Neill said while Woodside had hoped to develop gas resources with its joint venture participants and “deliver much-needed energy to the Myanmar people”, there was no longer a viable option to continue in the country.
“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,” O’Neill said.
“Given the ongoing situation in Myanmar we can no longer contemplate Woodside’s participation in the development of … gas resources, nor other future activities in-country,” she said.
- George Russell and Jim Pollard