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UPDATE 1-Chevron lobbies U.S. officials on Myanmar as sanctions pressure rises

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·2 min read
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(Adds comment from Chevron in paragraphs 8 and 9)

April 22 (Reuters) - U.S. oil giant Chevron Corp lobbied lawmakers and government officials to protect its energy interests in Myanmar during the first quarter, as the administration of President Joe Biden comes under pressure to impose sanctions against the south Asian country’s military junta, according to federal disclosures.

Chevron is among a handful of international oil and gas companies with big stakes in Myanmar’s energy riches, which have become a crucial source of revenue for military rulers who seized power in February and imposed a bloody crackdown on political protests.

(For a FACTBOX on foreign energy investment in Myanmar, click here https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-politics-energy-factbox/factbox-oil-majors-in-myanmar-in-spotlight-after-un-call-for-sanctions-idUSKBN2B11XX)

According to the lobbying disclosures, Chevron spent $2,170,000 on lobbying in the United States in the first three months of 2021. That work included discussions with lawmakers and officials in the State Department, the Department of Commerce and the National Security Council on issues in several countries including Myanmar, according to the filings.

Details of the discussions were not available.

Biden administration officials did not immediately comment on the lobbying.

Chevron had also lobbied on Myanmar energy issues in previous years prior to the military coup there.

Chevron’s holdings in Myanmar include a 28.3% stake in the Yadana natural gas field and a 28.3% stake in a pipeline that carries Burmese gas to Thailand.

A Chevron spokesman declined to comment on the details of its lobbying or the sanctions pressure, but said that shutting down the Yadana field would "could adversely affect its future production potential."

"It is a mature field that requires ongoing maintenance to maintain safety and future production," Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall said in an email.

The company has been disclosing payments to the government of Myanmar via the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global initiative to increase transparency in international business. According to EITI data, Chevron paid around $50 million to Myanmar between 2014 and 2018.

Human rights group have been urging international oil companies, including Chevron, Total, Woodside Petroleum and others, to cut their ties to Myanmar after the military ousted the elected government of veteran democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, detaining her and cracking down on protests. More than 750 people have been killed since.

The United Nations human rights investigator, meanwhile, has called for coordinated international sanctions on Myanmar’s state oil and gas company MOGE, which is a partner in Yadana and the country’s other assets, to choke revenue to the junta. That could force companies like Chevron to step away from their holdings there. (Writing by Richard Valdmanis Editing by Marguerita Choy)