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Australia’s Woodside Exit from Myanmar to Cost $200m

The company completed the relinquishment of exploration permits covering three offshore blocks and is in the process of withdrawing from three others

Woodside Energy expects LNG prices to remain high for several years.
The global LNG market was already tight before the war in Ukraine because of underinvestment over the past five years, Woodside CEO Meg O'Neill said. Photo: Reuters.


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.

Woodside said in a stock exchange filing that it would exit its joint venture and production sharing contract with the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.


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.


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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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