Canadians call for sanctions on Myanmar state-owned energy firm MOGE

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Photo of an offshore oil rig. There are two main looking structures and open, metal bridges radiating out from the one on the right.
An offshore rig in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Myanmar. Credit: Stephan Gladieu

This article was originally published by Myanmar Now and is reposted here with permission.

Hundreds of Canadians have signed a petition calling on the government of Justin Trudeau to sanction Myanmar’s state-owned energy firm Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) in order to block a little-known Canadian company from buying the largest stake in the Yadana offshore gas and pipeline project.

The company, Alberta-based MTI Energy Inc., has for more than a year been in the process of buying US oil giant Chevron’s stake in the Yadana project, considered to be the largest source of revenue for Myanmar’s junta.

If the backers of the petition—directed at Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly—have their way, the sale would be blocked by sanctions on MOGE, a state-owned entity heavily involved in the Yadana project.

“We must ensure no Canadian company is complicit in the Burma military junta’s war crimes,” reads the online petition drafted last month by Canadians concerned about the situation in Myanmar.

“MTI Energy’s acquisition of Chevron’s shares would put it in business with MOGE, a partner in the Yadana joint venture,” explains the petition, drafted by Ottawa-based NGO Inter Pares.

Email your MP now and stop a Canadian company from bankrolling war crimes in Burma.


It is unclear how Joly will respond to calls to sanction MOGE, which was left off of Canada’s updated sanctions list on October 31 of last year, despite its inclusion in new sanctions announced at the same time by the US government.

Canada’s failure to sanction MOGE, which has also been blacklisted by the EU, makes it possible for MTI Energy to go ahead and buy a 41.1% stake in the Yadana project and a stake of the same size in the Moattama Gas Pipeline Company, the entity that owns the Yadana pipeline, via Et Martem Holdings Limited, a Bermuda-registered subsidiary. The pipeline runs from a gas field in the Andaman Sea through Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region to Thailand, via territory partially controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU), an ethnic armed group now actively fighting Myanmar’s junta.

MTI Energy, a self-described spin-off from the oil and gas services manufacturer Mitey Titan Industries, is the subject of a complaint filed by Washington-based NGO Earth Rights International (ERI) and an unnamed Burmese partner that was submitted to Canada’s National Contact Point (NCP) for Responsible Business Conduct, an entity managed and staffed by the Foreign Ministry to ensure compliance with guidelines set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“If MTI completes its acquisition, it will be making or enabling monthly payments that are an act of corruption, assisting the junta in its abuse of public office for the theft of public funds,” warned ERI and its partner in the complaint filed last September.

Though the complaint was submitted more than five months ago, there is no mention on the NCP Secretariat webpage that there is an active complaint filed against MTI Energy.

Canada’s NCP office was recently admonished by the OECD for repeatedly flouting its guidelines during its handling of a complaint filed by a foundation named after Swiss environmentalist Bruno Manser against a Canadian real-estate company owned by the daughter of a controversial Malaysian politician.

The OECD rebuke, which accused the Canadian NCP office of attempting to silence the group for trying to hold it accountable, triggered a revamp of sorts at the office, but it remains uncertain how much things have changed.

Several months after ERI’s complaint against MTI Energy was first filed, it appears that NCP staff in Ottawa are still making their “initial assessment,” according to a chart on the NCP Secretariat website, where a complaint against an unnamed firm that matches the complaint filed by ERI is briefly described.

In a statement released by ERI when the complaint was submitted last September, the legal rights organisation highlighted the lack of distance between the NCP office and the Foreign Ministry—officially known as Global Affairs Canada (GAC)—noting that the office is housed at the ministry.

”As GAC considers whether to finally follow the EU’s lead and impose sanctions on Myanmar gas revenues, we’d hope that the NCP staff might wander down the hall and highlight that MTI Energy is entering a corrupt joint venture with Myanmar’s brutal military junta that will fund airstrikes on school and hospitals,” Keith Slack, ERI’s director of strategy and campaigns, said in a statement.

Myanmar Now contacted GAC spokesperson Pierre Cuguen for comment, but he declined to provide any timeline or other specific information about the status of the complaint against MTI Energy.

“Updates and documents related to active specific instance processes are uploaded to the NCP website once available,” he said.

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