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Total Eyes Pater's Burma Stake
- Subject: Total Eyes Pater's Burma Stake
- From: waterly@xxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 18:39:00
Copyright 1997 Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse
February 12, 1997 12:15 GMT
SECTION: Financial pages
HEADLINE: Total eyes partner's Burma stake despite US-led boycott
DATELINE: PARIS, Feb 12
The chief of the French oil group Total is ready to move into Burma if its
American partner leaves under international pressure, according to an interview
published Wednesday in the Financial Times.
"If they did have to leave, we could easily find other companies from Asia to
replace them," he told the British newspaper, saying Total might even buy out
its partner, Unocal, itself.
The position of Total's president, Thierry Desmarest, is sure to get the
attention of Washington, which is trying to place Burma under an international
boycott because of perceived human rights violations.
"I don't feel there is any benefit in isolating countries," Desmarest said,
defending his position. "We don't feel we're behaving in a wrong way."
Unocal (Union oil of California) and Total are the two main foreign investors
Unocal executives recently assured Total they intend to maintain their
Burmese operation but several other companies, including PepsiCo, Carlsberg and
Heineken have already bowed to political pressure and left.
The Burmese opposition accuses Total and Unocal of supporting Burma's
military regime and damaging the environment.
There is speculation that remaining defiant to Washington foreign policy may
cost Total its United States operations but, as Desmarest points out, these are
Asked about Total's investment in other politically sensitive countries such
as Iran, Iraq and Libya, Desmarest acknowledged that "we're a bit more relaxed
about such countries than some of our competitors."
"It's just that the Lord put the reserves in places that are a bit hot on
Oil operations of the partners in Burma centre around the Badamyar and SEIN
fields. A pipe is currently being built to transport offshore gas deposits to
the Thai border.