[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

interview with Total (Oct 96)

TOTAL Headquarters, Paris - La Defense, October 1996
Attending:    Michel de Laborde, in charge of communications
                    Claire Pedini, assistant

Interview conducted by Paolo V

- There are a number of allegations that forced labour is used on the Total
project in Burma. How do you respond to these allegations?

We clearly and categorically deny the use of forced labour on our project in
Burma. What we are doing is in line with respect for human rights and the
environment, not only in Burma but everywhere in the world where we operate.
We have only one way of working, which goes for all our projects. We
guarantee that all our subcontractors who are involved in this project,
respect the same rules. We hold ourselves responsible for this. All the
employees from the 13 villages along our project are voluntary and paid
workers. Besides, if these people were forced, they wouldn't be queuing up
as they are at the moment this year, at the beginning of the second season.
We have, I don't remember exactly how many....

- 800 applicants for 1500 posts - according to the Federation Internationale
des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH) report dated 24-9-1996. [FIDH is a French human
rights organization].

No, it is exactly the opposite. We have 1500 applicants for 800 vacancies.
We have twice as many applicants for the jobs we are offering for the season
this year. If the people weren't happy, we wouldn't have such a demand.

- Granted, but the economic situation in Burma is so catastrophic that
people are prepared to do anything - there seems to be an increase in
prostitution for example. Such an offer from your side could seem rather

We unequivocally guarantee that all the people working on our project do so
voluntarily and are paid at 20% above the going rate for the country. These
people come from various villages around the pipeline, where we set up
liaison committees with the villagers in order to distribute the work among
ethnic, religious and other groups... All these people are paid by us. We
are very clear and categoric on this  point.
Indeed, labour costs in that country are quite negligible.

We are victims of a disinformation campaign. How can anyone imagine that a
company like ours would resort to forced labour?

- TOTAL implicitly acknowledges the large scale use of forced labour in
Burma. What guarantees have you got from SLORC that your project will be an
exception to the rule? Is there anything in writing?

We do not acknowledge anything at all. SLORC has nothing to do with our
project site since this is under our responsibility. We guarantee that there
is no forced labour on our project and that our workforce is voluntary and paid.
Some testimonies state that effectively Total is paying. The problem is that
the money paid by your company is diverted...

But we are the ones who pay the wages. I have attended the distribution of
wages myself and I can assure you that these people got the money in their

- So, how exactly are the wages paid out to your Burmese employees?

The distribution of wages takes place at Kanbauk camp, at the end of the
week, I think. I don't remember whether we pay them per week, but I know we
pay them regularly. This is done by Total staff directly to our employees,
inside the camp, where there is no one else other than people on the Total

- Is Total paying 200 kyats to each employee? Or 300?...per day?  Per week?
[At the official rate 1 US$ is worth around 6 kyats - the Burmese currency.
On the balck market, 1 US$ fetches around 200 kyats... even more].
I think it's 200 kyats per day...

- These kyats paid by Total, are they bought at the official rate or on the
black market?

I have no idea. But everything done by Total is obviously official. That is
not the point. The most important thing is that these people are paid.

- How much did Total and Unocal pay to MOGE [Myanmar Oil and Gas Entreprise]
for the exploitation rights of the Yadana gas field and when?

We bought the data concerning the oil field - discovered by another company
some years ago - which in oil industry jargon we call "bonus". This bonus,
amounting to 15 million dollars, was paid in '92 or '93... This is common
practice in our industry. Buying the geological or seismic data means we
don't have to do a topographical survey and field studies again. So we
bought the data.

- Only 15 million dollars?  
Yes, 15 million dollars, not more.

- Does the consortium pay a yearly rent or some kind of rent to the Burmese
government? If so, how much?
At the moment, this project is costing everyone money, including MOGE which
has to finance it 15% share. We haven't pay anybody anything. This is just
the investment stage at present.

- Did MOGE, partner in the consortium, pay its share, or is it optional?
The total cost of this project, i.e. 1 billion dollars, is paid
progressively as the work goes ahead. A project is paid for in instalments.
In a project that will last 6 years, between the signing of the contract and
the first deliveries of gas, we cannot tie up the total investment. This is
a question of common sense. Money is invested as the work progresses. We are
just about to enter the main phase of the work. Nothing is paid in full from
the start. Everyone puts up the finance according to their share.
 - The IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have so far denied
all monetary loans to the Burmese regime and money for investments here.
Also, Burma is one of the poorest countries in the world with LDC [Least
Developed Country] status at the United Nations. Have you got any idea where
MOGE money is coming from?

You'd have to ask them. What we can say is that we are financing our own
project. Do I need to point out that up to now the costs incurred on this
project have been low, because we are talking here about infrastructure
costs? The large expenditures are yet to come. The same goes for Unocal, we
don't know the source of their investments.

- In 1993, when SLORC purchased arms from Poland in 1993, they claimed that
the money came from the fees paid by Total for the exploitation of the
Yadana gas field. Thus, Total is contributing to the SLORC militarisation?
That's stupid. 15 million dollars! What is 15 million dollars? Why don't you
ask Poland, especially Lech Walesca, another Nobel Peace Prize Winner? We
have paid 15 million dollars to the SLORC but we don't know what they've
done with it. You have to admit that 15 million dollars is not a huge amount
of money. You can't buy a single helicopter with that.
- And yet 24 helicopters were purchased at that time...
Well they didn't come out of the bonus from Total. That story 's already 2
or 3 years old. Come on, 15 million dollars! Let's be realistic!
In 1993, members of the NCGUB - the Burmese government in exile - approached
Total and produced evidence to show that your project with Slorc only
reinforced their dictatorship. Nevertheless, Total decided to go ahead,
regardless of the risks and criticisms. Why?

We cannot answer these kind of questions. We don't make any comment on the
political issues. Having said that, why are we in Burma? We are not ashamed
to be there. First of all, because we are industrialists, and this is a
large energy development project. We are there because we think that this
project is good in several respects. We believe that the economic
development of a country is bound to lead to a political opening up, history
has proved it. Moreover this project will reinforce links between Thailand
and Burma, who have had a history of tense relations. This will contribute
to regional stability. History has proved that isolation is not necessarily
a good thing.

- How many expats does Total employ on its project in Burma? Is that
sufficient to oversee the whole enterprise?
During the previous season, on the on-shore part of the pipeline, there were
about 600 people, a third of whom were expats, so that means 200 expats,
more or less. For the coming season there will be about the same proportion
of staff: one third expats and two thirds Burmese.

- TOTAL has contracted well-known international sub-contractors to work on
the Yadana project. Is it possible to know which are these companies?
Some are French companies specializing in the building of equipment for the
oil industry. Other than that, we are not obliged to say who we are working

- Why not?
This is not an interrogation. We don't have to answer...

- But might these companies gain some 'prestige' in collaborating with a
company like yours?
Who we are working with is our business. In the oil industry, the rule is
that it is the project operator who makes any public statements. It is the
operator who speaks on behalf of the others. It's not for the partners or
sub-contractors to make public statements or personal comments. This is the
role of the operator who conducts the project and who is charge. In this
case, Total. Having said that, these companies are internationally
recognised and, you can be assured, perfectly honourable...

- And competent?
Absolutely. We don't take risks. Only 3 or 4 companies in the world are able
to build the pipes off-shore. Schlumberger has virtually the world monopoly
for drilling. We cannot afford to work with amateur and unprofessional
companies in certain fields. We are working with a large number of
companies. So to give you an exhaustive list of all the subcontractors...
there are so many.

- So for each type of job, you are using different companies...
Of course, we are not competent in all fields, like civil engineering or
helicopter transportation. For example, we have been working with the
Institut Geographique National for the topography.

- TOTAL refuses to disclose the origin and the number of their "security
consultants" for security reasons. Can you explain?
It is not that we refuse, or rather, yes we refuse... To ensure our staff's
safety we refuse to disclose the measures taken. To be precise, we make a
point of not revealing them. We have taken security measures but we won't
reveal what they are. Out of an obvious concern for safety. All that we can
say is that the people in charge of security are not 'heavies' and that
nobody is armed. These are more like procedural measures to prevent whatever
might come up, because we are in a region which is effectively not secure...
not because of our project. In that area there has been fighting since the
end of World War II. There are constant skirmishes between the central
regime in Rangoon and the Karens, the Mons etc.. This has always been an
area of insurgency, this is nothing new. It is not because of Total is there
that local people are fighting in that region. They were fighting before;
they will be fighting after we have gone, unfortunately. Ethnic and
religious problems have always existed overthere, but let's hope they will
be sorted out one day. They are not because of our project.

- In order to put a stop to the rumours, you are planning to organise a
press trip to your project in Burma...
We have already had journalists visiting our project... 

- When?
Last July, journalists from the Financial Times, the Far Eastern Economic
Review and from Japanese television went there.

- According to the FIDH report, no visit was possible during that time
because it was the monsoon and the work was halted, so there was nothing to
They wanted to go and we allowed them to, but they didn't see anything. We'd
already told them it wasn't worth going because actually there was nothing
to see. We do intend to take journalists to the project.

- When?
We don't know yet. But we are not going to organise charter flights and turn
it into some kind of circus. Nevertheless, we will send some.

- What conditions are there to get accreditation? Will there be any
selection criteria?
This will be up to us. It will be mostly reporters from well-known
publications, like the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek,
Le Monde etc... and not journalists from 'newsletter'. It will be with
journalists with large international backing.

- And if I were to make a formal request?
Representing who? Do you have a press card?

- I am just about to get a press card in Thailand.
You won't be high priority for the moment, but maybe you'll be able to go
sometime. Big international titles are our priority. We will send a certain
number of people, even though some have already been. This project is not in
a restricted area. What we are trying to tell those who are interested,
because we have received a lot of requests this summer, that there is no
point in going now, there's nothing to see for the good reason that the
pipes have not been laid yet, contrary to what certain people have been saying.

- Previously it was the building of infrastructures which will receive...
 ... Yes, but about two years ago, some of your fellow journalists
nevertheless claimed to have seen the construction of pipes in progress...

- ... I must have missed those articles.
Anyway, there have already been visits from journalists and there will be
more, but it's not going to be the "Club Med". We're not going to organise
weekly charter flights... because it is an industrial project and a place of
work... As for security, we are not talking about security in general terms,
and this is not specific to the Burmese project - especially as we had a
serious accident in March '95, which as you know caused the death of 5
people. And security is an important and delicate issue. So for all these
reasons we are not going to talk about that.

- And amongst the victims of the accident you mentioned, were there any
French citizens?
All 5 were Burmese, unfortunately.

- Karen rebels picked up radio messages between the helicopter and the base,
and they mentioned an Algerian citizen...
They were 5 Burmese. That is clear.
 - You envisage a visit for journalists, but there seem to be problems, if
not to say obstacles, in a way of a visit by NGO's.
Yes, absolutely, because we do not believe that we have to justify ourselves
to NGO's. We do not need to answer to them. Anyway we don't forsee this
happening for the time being.

- TOTAL and Unocal are developing social and medical programmes in their
project area. However Medecins du Monde [a French medical NGO] refused a
generous offer from your company because, as partners, they would be
prohibited from reporting about the true situation in the area of the
pipeline. So, what is the credibility of your assistance programmes if they
are not recognised by independent and well respected organisations?
Firstly, I don't see why you mention Medecins du Monde. Next, the programmes
we have set up are not only medical. Once again, what we are doing is not
specific to Burma. Wherever we are in the world, we do the same things. Our
programme in Burma costs 2 million dollars per year, which is quite a
substantial sum. We have quite a sizeable health programme where we employ
12 Burmese doctors, because we believe that Burmese people should take care
of Burmese people. We also have a malaria programme in co-operation with the
Pasteur Institute, which is a reference in itself. We also have a series of
social programmes, which includes building schools, sports equipment,
rehabilitation and so on... We also bring economic assistance to the local
population, with breeding farms, prawn farms etc... These kinds of
programmes are set up in every poor country where we operate, like Algeria,
Abu Dhabi, Argentina...
TOTAL and its consortium partners have been taken to the American courts for
complicity in human rights violations. You will have to present irrefutable
evidence of the regularity of your project. What is or will be your approach?

Humanitarian organisations that we don't know much about and who have not
even contacted us have filed a complaint with an American court. A French
company indicted before a Californian court because of their activities in
Burma!... I think this will cause some procedural headaches for the court.
It's far from clear whether or not they'll be able to take the case. For
your information, a complaint was filed against Unocal by the Burmese
government in exile (NCGUB) more than a month ago. Unocal hasn't been
summonsed by the court yet.
Anyway, the case will be long.

We have no problem explaining how we work. That is, if we have to and if the
court is within its powers, and indictment is allowed to proceed. At moment
it's in the hands of the lawyers.
A case to follow"...
An ad from EGAT - published in the Bangkok Post 17 April 1995 - confirmed
the relocation of several Burmese villages for the construction of the
pipeline. How can you explain this?

We have never had to relocate any village. Anyway, we have photographs,
topographical surveys to show the villages are still there.

- But there was this ad?
Do we sell gas to them?

- Absolutely, they will benefit from it for their power plant in Ratchaburi
in Thailand.
So you'lll have to ask EGAT about this.

- Do you believe that the 20% of the Yadana gas earmarked for the Burmese
market will be sufficient to make up for the chronic energy deficit and
enable the industrial sector to take off?

20% is better than nothing, than zero. The project clearly couldn't have
been developed if it was only aimed at the Burmese market, there had to be
an outlet. It was essential that Burma should have a share - one fifth - and
prospective markets for the rest. Whether the 20% is sufficient, you'd
better ask the Burmese Ministry of Industry. 20% is better than nothing.

- In the long term, this could be mortgaging the future of economic
development in Burma...
Why mortgaging?

- Because the country needs a lot of energy if it is to take off
economically. According to a World Bank report, only 2% of the population
has access to electricity.
This is incredible! We are blamed for being in that country and bringing
gas, and now we are blamed for not bringing enough of it.

- But is 20% enough then?
Is Total responsible for the power supply in Burma? It is true that the
country needs gas. I don't know much about the Texaco project, but maybe
they are planning to deliver some to the Burmese market?

- TOTAL claims that the pipeline will be a factor in the economic
development of Burma. How can that be possible if its government is spending
about 50% of the state budget for military purposes?
What do the military needs of Burma have to do with our pipeline?

- It is assumed that the incomes generated by this pipeline will allow the
continuation of the militarisation of the Burmese regime...
The first inflow for the Burmese government won't be until 2002. Our project
won't bring in any money until after that date. Who knows who will be in
power in 2002?

- At the first ASEM meeting, French President Chirac claimed in Bangkok that
your pipeline will contribute to the economic development of Burma and that
in the long term this will lead to democracy...
I couldn't agree more...

- ... However, some Gulf states and Singapore for example whom have a high
standard of living and prosperity are not models of democracy...
Economic development is a factor which helps the emergence of democracy.
Take for example Argentina and Chile where economic opening has created a
political opening-up. On the other hand, look at Cuba. Aung San Suu Kyi, the
Nobel Peace Prize winner, said that it is not good to invest in Burma.
Nevertheless, when Shimon Perez (another Nobel Peace Prize winner) was asked
"Is it necessary to use economic and financial pressure on the Netanyahou
Israeli government - with whom he does not agree - to force it to get more
involved in the peace process?" said: "This would be a big mistake. I do not
believe there are beneficial effects of economic sanctions. These stir up
nationalist feelings and unite the people against those who are applying
them. We can see the results everywhere". That is what another Nobel Peace
Prize Winner has declared. How can you weigh one Nobel Peace Prize Winner
against another; Aung San Suu Kyi and Shimon Perez? Look at the world today.
Isolation hasn't helped Cuba or Iraq. Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein are
still in power. And those who are suffering are their people. Of course,
this is a difficult argument, where nothing is completely black or white.
But in a general sense, we believe isolation is not the solution.

- Indeed, an economic embargo against Burma might make its people suffer.
But the Burmese are already suffering enormously. This will not make much
As you must have seen for yourself, the Burmese are not dying of starvation.
They manage to eat, etc... We do not deny that there are problems. But we
are convinced that economic isolation will not resolve them. Incidentally,
what you are saying is grotesque. For people who are already suffering, is
it not worse to make them suffer more? 

- That's not what I meant. You misunderstood me..
Do you want to leave them as they are?

- No, I simply wanted to point out that the rush of foreign investors in
Burma has not created any political opening-up. Quite the opposite. SLORC is
holding on to power through increased repression. Investments have not
generated any positive signs so far...
This country has been isolated for more than 30 years, and it's only over
the last 3 or 4 years that investments has started to flow in. We cannot
measure the impact yet. Altough in Rangoon you can already see changes and

- Certainly, the city has been beautified...
It's no only a question of beautification. A wave of economic activity is
under way. Once again, we believe that economic development will promote
political opening. Numerous examples throughout the world have shown this.
Unfortunately, isolation measures have not been successful, like Cuba, Iraq...

- However, isolation against South Africa bore fruit...
I don't quite agree. The embargo against South Africa was essentially
political. Of course, economic too, but essentially political. South Africa
was already a developed country, which was economically self-sufficient.
Moreover, South Africa and Burma cannot be compared. All of South Africa's
neighbours were against the apartheid regime. In Burma, this is not the
case. Asean countries want to welcome Burma into their group. The Malaysian
Prime Minister declared that they want to speed up the admission procedure
for Burma to become a full member of Asean. This view is shared by their
neighbours, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, etc... who want the opening up
of the country.
 - SLORC has come to be internationally criticised and the policy of
constructive engagment has been called into question. Last week, some
members of ASEAN - The Philippines, Thailand and Singapore - expressed
serious reservations about the future admission of Burma into their group,
contrary to what was agreed in the last annual summit in Jakarta on 20th of
July. Moreover, numerous countries refuse to have any diplomatic relations
with the Rangoon regime. So is it normal to deal with such a government
which has no legitimacy or legality?
Our project is for the development of Burma. We are not dealing with the
SLORC. Our partner is MOGE. We are industrialists...

- But you know very well that in Burma all economic power belongs to the
military and that MOGE is operating under the SLORC junta...
Of course, but there are no sanctions which prohibit working in Burma. SLORC
has diplomatic relations with many countries. There are embassies and

- Yes, if they don't meet the same fate as Leo Nicholls [Leo Nichols was the
Honorary Consul for Scandinavians countries and Switzerland, who died in
suspicious circumstances while in detention in the Insein prison]...
Yes, maybe. But he was only an Honorary Consul, which is different...

- That doesn't prevent the other...
Yes, but there are diplomatic representations over there. In any case, we
are convinced that economic development will contribute to political opening.

- In September 1994, the Burmese government in exile warned that they will
not honour the contracts signed by the SLORC once they are in power.
Therefore, it is in Total interests to keep the junta in power...
No. We are developing an industrial project in Burma in the interests of the
Burmese people. It seems unrealistic to us that those who might be in power
in the future will call into question something wich is bringing development
to their country.

- Is your project covered by COFACE? [COFACE is a French state investment
guarantee agency]
We do not answer this kind of question.

- Why not?
That's our business, and we don't have to make it public knowledge. We never
answer this kind of question. For competition reasons too, we don't reveal
our financial arrangements.

- But your project in Burma is a high-risk project?
It is not only COFACE who offer this kind of cover. And anyway, this is our
business, not yours...

- Maybe, but COFACE money comes from taxpayers...
In that case, you had better go and ask COFACE themselves. Generally, as a
general rule we don't answer these questions.
 - To what extent is the French government involved in the finances and
administration of the Total group?
None. Total is a private company.

- Nevertheless, the French state is a shareholder..
Yes, it owns 1%. Because it has issued oil certificates and it is obliged to
keep 1% of the shares.

- That's the financial side. What about administrative control?
Of course, running an oil company is not like selling shoes. We are in
charge of the energy supply of the country and relations can be fairly
close, just like British or American companies with their own governments.
But the French state has nothing to do with the way we conduct our business. 

- Even if Total 's President is appointed by the Council of Ministers?
No, not at all.

- TOTAL 's President is not a senior civil servant?
That is a thing of the past. Nowadays, the President is elected by Total's
Board of Directors.

- So what about the two government representatives appointed by decree?
No, there is only one state representative on our Board of Directors - Mr
Arlette, Director of the Department of Hydrocarbons [under the French
Ministry of Industry]. Our Board of Directors has a dozen members. They are
the Presidents of Alcatel, Lyonnaise des Eaux, Paribas, AGF, NatWest [a
British bank] - all these institutions are private. Only Cogema and Credit
Lyonnais, whose Presidents belong to our Board of Directors, are state

- But the French State does have interests in the Total group?
It all depends on what you call interests. The French state, either directly
or through its participation in state entreprises has an insignificant part
in our company. You don't understand economic relations between large
countries and the oil industry. Participation doesn't constrain relations
between a state and a company. It is true that oil is a strategic issue for
a country. That is obvious. There may sometimes be some links. If one day
Total made a decision which went against the strategic interests of France,
then certainly the government would let us know. Just as Bill Clinton did
with Conoco. You don't have to be a shareholder to make these decisions

- You mention Lord Alexander of Weedon Director of NatWest amongst your
Board of Directors. Is this British bank a shareholder in the Total group?
No. But because 45% of our capital is held abroad, about 20% at which is in
Great Britain, mostly in pension funds, it seemed important to us to have a
member on our Board who represented a certain Anglo-Saxon and British
sensitivity, since we have more than 20% of our capital there. But NatWest
is not a capital shareholder. It's not necessary to be a shareholder in
order to be a member of Total's Board of Directors. For example, Mr Tchuruk,
President of Alcatel and member of our Board, has no holdings in Total. The
same goes for Mr Monod (President of Lyonnaise des Eaux). But they are
people who, through their experience and knowledge, have something to
contribute to the Total Board.

- The oil company Unocal seems to be the weak link in the consortium project
in Burma. Should they withdraw, will your project be interrupted?
On what grounds do you base this judgement? Unocal has always reiterated
that it is a partner in this project and a partner in full.

- But if the American authorities pass a law prohibiting companies from
investing in Burma, Unocal will have to withdraw?...
If tomorrow France passed a law prohibiting French companies from investing
in Burma, then Total would withdraw. The same goes for Thai companies if
their authorities did the same. And whether Petronas, our partner in Iran,
will withdraw or Shell in the Middle East, etc... I don't know anything
about that. But Unocal is not a weak link and has no reason to withdraw.
Read their statements.

- John Imle, President of Unocal, declared before an U.S. Senatorial
Committee, that Unocal has been approached by an Asian oil company for the
purchase of its shares. What is this about?
I've never heard about this. You'll have to ask him. And in any case, if
Unocal withdraws, there will be another company to replace them.

- Yes, if Western companies withdraw from Burma, they will most probably be
replaced by those from the ASEAN countries. This is probably true for the
tourism sector, agro and food industry, garments industry... However, their
technical expertise in some hi-tech sectors, like the oil sector is
questionable. What is your opinion?
You are misinformed.

- So are they technically efficient too?
Perhaps not completley. But in any case, a lot of them are working with
subcontractors. The Japanese, Malays and the Thais are not stupid. PTTEP
have been exploiting oil for many years. The Chinese have 45 refineries and
don't have any problem exploiting their oil resources without foreign
assistance. China is the 2nd or 3rd oil producer in the world.
Underestimating Asians is very western, they are not stupid...

- I'm quite sure they're not, but I would like to ask an expert like
yourself this question. Do Western oil companies have better knowledge and
It's possible that they have some superiority in some fields. For example,
in Eastern Europe, many Western companies have a technical superiority and
better know-how. It is true that some Eastern European oil companies do not
have as much hi-tech competence as the Western companies. But the Asians
have been working all over the world for a long time now.

- Thus an Asian oil company could easily substitute for Unocal from a
technical point of view?
We are the operator, not Unocal. Unocal is a financial partner. All the
engineers who are working on this project are Total engineers. Of course, it
might happen that we ask Unocal experts for advice on a specific technique
and that they contribute certain specific competence that we lack. That's
how it goes in the oil industry. One company never gets involved alone,
because the stake, the funds and the risks, whatever they are, are very
high. When you dig a hole, you never know what you're going to find. The
technical and financial risks are so high that it's always done as a joint
venture and an operator is chosen in the consortium.

- In an interview with the French daily Le Monde [24-7-96], Mr Valot [a
high-ranking Total manager] said he was surprised by remarks made by Aung
San Suu Kyi criticising Total's investments in Burma. Doesn't she have the
greater legitimacy to know best what is good for her people and her country?
This is not a question of legitimacy or anything else. We are surprised
because isolation is not a solution and we are convinced that an economic
opening of a country will lead to political opening in the long run. The
Burmese people will benefit from it.

- In business, trust is an important element. Can you trust a regime which
refuses, among other things, to honour the 1990 elections and which is
notorious for its human rights abuses?
Our project is an industrial project which we operate ourselves. We have
total trust in our Burmese staff, who are workers of high quality. They
learn quickly.

- Could Total cancel its contract with MOGE if SLORC were to violently
repress a demonstration or a peaceful popular uprising?
We are not involved in politics. All we are interested in is completing our
project, which is a far cry from all of this.
(end of document)

Any comment and/or reactions are welcome
please contact Paolo V at : (66 - 2) 279 60 42 (in Bangkok) or