PTT denies condoning human rights violations in Myanmar after Norwegian fund accusation


Oil giant PTT Plc has informed the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) that it does not condone human rights violations in Myanmar as accused by a sovereign wealth fund from Norway.

PTT president and CEO Auttapol Rerkpiboon has sent a letter of clarification to the SET that the PTT and its subsidiaries have always adhered to its sustainability management policy that consists of environmental, social and good business governance as well as respect for human rights.

Auttapol was responding to allegations by the executive board of a US$1.3-trillion Norwegian fund last week that it has dropped PTT Plc and PTT Oil and Retail Business Plc (OR) from its portfolio because of “an unacceptable risk” of human rights violations.

The fund’s ethics council expressed concern that PTT and OR’s partnership with state- and military-owned companies in Myanmar and that the two Thai firms’ activities in Myanmar would provide the junta “with substantial revenue streams that can finance military operations and abuses”.

“There is an unacceptable risk that the companies contribute to serious violations of individuals’ rights in the situations of war or conflict,” the fund stated.

The Myanmar army has been repressive and using lethal force to crack down on democracy protesters since it toppled the elected government in February last year.

In his letter to the SET, Auttapol insisted that PTT’s principle of respect for human rights also applied to the companies that served as its supply chain.

Auttapol said that PTT has always been conscientious about its operations not violating human rights and it also protects and supports human rights in line with international standards and promotes good ties with all stakeholders.

Auttapol said the PTT had complied with the laws and regulations and checked and analysed the status of its business partners in Myanmar thoroughly.

“PTT respects human rights and this is among our basic standard of operations,” Auttapol said.

“And PTT is concerned over the violent situation in Myanmar since the 2021 coup. We support a peaceful solution and we strictly observe the law and international operational standard wherever we carry out business.”

He added that the PTT has been monitoring closely the situation in Myanmar to make future decisions by ensuring that its investments would lead to sustainable development and access to energy sources.

After giant Chevron and TotalEnergies announced their decision to leave Myanmar in January this year to not support the repressive regime, PTT announced in March that it would take over from TotalEnergies the operation of the Yadana gas field with effect from July.

Apart from PTT, the OR also sent a letter of clarification to the SET on Thursday.

Signed by OR CEO Disathat Panyarachun, the PTT subsidiary said the OR invested in the Brighter Energy (BE) joint venture in 2019, holding 35% of shares, for the transportation and storage of petroleum products, in which a storage terminal is in the process of being constructed for the operations in Myanmar.

The objective of the investment is to provide broader benefits and help improve the well-being of Myanmar people, the letter said.

“However, since there has been violence and unrest in Myanmar leading to sanctions imposed by several countries in 2021, OR , as a minority interest shareholder, did not and will not make additional capital injection into BE and has expressly declared our intention to suspend BE’s operations and construction and payments. Also, no payments will be made to anyone on the sanctions list. OR strictly complies with business ethics and policies that shall not involve supporting violence and human rights violations from the BE operations in Myanmar,” the letter said.

“OR has adhered to the sustainability management policy, which consists of environmental, social and good business governance by complying with laws, regulations, international guidelines and international human rights standards.”