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Will Norwegian Companies invest in
- Subject: Will Norwegian Companies invest in
- From: dvb@xxxxx
- Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 05:52:00
Subject: Will Norwegian Companies invest in Burma?
NORWEGIAN STATE OWNED OIL COMPANIES PLAN TO INVEST IN BURMA
Headline: NORSK HYDRO AND STATOIL on their way to invest in Burma.
(By Morten Iversen, Dagens Næringsliv, 4 January 1996. DN is the leading
Nowegian business paper. Translated by Kai)
Bangkok: Hydro and Statoil has started up talks with the Burmese military
junta about contracts worth billions of NOK [8NOK = 1USD]. Norway is among
the few western countries without any direct investment in Burma.
- We are among many companies being invited for further talks with the
Burmese gvernment, Per-Christian Endsjo at the Asian headquarters of Norsk
Hydro in Singapore confirms.
Meeting held just before Christmas. Endsjo had a meeting with
representatives from the Burmese military junta (SLORC) just before
Christmas in Rangoon.
- This is an enormous and ambitious projects from the Burmese government's
side, but is still long time before an agreement eventually can be signed,
Norsk Hydro has so far chosen to be alone about the project, but Endsjo
says that the concern are planning to join a consortium with other
companies if the talks are positive. Hydro primarily wants to invest in a
production plant for fertilizer. Norsk Hydro opened their head quarters for
Asia in Singapore last year. The company experience a big growth in the
region and did business in 1994 for over 4 billion NOK.
Statoil has chosen to join the thai company Charoen Pokphand Group
(CP-Group). This family controlled company is among the fastest growing
conglomorates in the world. The group has during the last a 5 years gone
from being a company with substansiell shares in the faring and fishing to
be company with billion investments in infra structure projects all over
Asia. The group is the biggest investor in China, and Burma is their new
- The political situation in Burma do not permit us to engage us directly,
but we are a part of the consortium Petro Asia, Erik Syrstad in Statoil
says in a short comment. Petro Asia is owned by the CP-group. Last year the
building of a 400 kilometers gaspipeline from the Yadana field to the
thai-border started. This pipeline goes through an area where the Burmese
government has been involved in fighting with the Mon minority group.
Iternational human rights organisations has several times shown that forced
labour is part of the work with the gaspipeline. Nobel peace prize winner
Aung San Suu Kyi has asked international companies not to invest in Burma
because she says the investments will not be beneficial for ordinary people.
Sources in Burma says to Dagens Naeringsliv that talks between five
different consortium will start in the mid February. Norsk Hydro is among
the companies that are wanted most to attend the meetings.
Enourmous field It is the enourmous Yadana field in the Andaman see outside
Burma that has made Hydro and Statoil interested in Burma. The country is
called Myanmar by the military regime. It is believed that the Yadana field
consist of 165 billon kubic meter with gas. The Thai stateowned oilcopany
has made an agreement to buy gas for 3 billion NOK the next ten years.
[Statoil is 100% owned by the Norwegian government, Norsk Hydro is owned 50%
by the Norwegian government. There has been a discussion whether Norwegian
stateowned companies should be engage with dictatorship. The official
norwegian mode is that as long as there are no UN embargo on the country
norwegian companies are free to do investments.]
(The moved by the Statoil and Norsk Hydro was strongly criticised by the
Nobel Peace Award Committee and Burmese pro-democracy groups based in Norway.)
Norwegian Foreign Ministry Warns its Companies to Keep away from Burma
6 January 1996 - The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has warned Norsk Hydro and
Statoil, not to engage in Burma. "There is good reasons to keep away from
Burmese military junta," the Noregian State-Secretary said.
The Nordic Aviation Resources which like to won the contract from the
Burmese military authorities to expand the Rangoon airport would probaly
turn down their 390 million Norwegian kroner project.
Officials from Statoil and Norsk Hydro said the position of the government
would have impact on their decision whether to make business in Burma.
Not the right time to do Business in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi Says
9 Jan 1996 - Norwegian TV 2 , Evening News
(Norwegian TV2 conducted an telephone interview with Aung San Suu Kyi
regarding the Statoil and Norsk Hydro's interest to do business in Burma.)
Aung San Suu Kyi: We have always look upon Norway as one of the strongest
alliance on our democratic movenment. The Norwegian peole, the Norwegian
Government and even the business interest in Norway will stand by a
I would not think that this is right time for any Norwegian-own comapnies or
any others industries to establish itself in Burma.
(On 11 January, Bergens Tidende, Newspaper from Bergen, the second city of
Norway printed an editorial article on Burma. It compare the situation
between South Africa and Burma. What follow is a brief tranlation of the
Nelson Mandela had asked the world to isolate South Africa until the
democratic forces obtained power in the country. Now, Aung San Suu Kyi has
the same request for concerning Burma. There are two good pieces of advice.
The release of Aung San Suu Kyi was followed by a strong hope that the
generals in Burma at least had realized that the only solution for their
country was a reconciliation based on a democracy leading to free elections,
and transfer of power to Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD. Unfortunately, this
conclusion is totally wrong as the junta show no sign of accepting freedom
and democracy. They do not even have a sensible ability to preceive the
demands of reality.
Norways and the Nordic countries positive position towards the freedom
forces of South Africa was surely economically damaging in the long run.
But in the present South Africa, the Nordic countries enjoy a goodwill that
more than outweighs the previous "losses."
Burma is not economically important country for Norway. The comapnies
should nevertheless discuss the matter, whether it is a wise strategy to let
down a brave woman, in order to get some contracts out of Burmese military
junta that have ruled the country without any legitimacy.
In our world, freedom and free trade is normal but boycott and eonomic war
is not. But Statoil and Huydro should have moral value and a common
sense.(translated by Sigrid Reksten)