By David Stenerud
Kværner R. J. Brown in Singapore first got involved with Premiere Oil and MOGE already in 1997. The Kværner company designed topcovers and modules and assisted in the construction of the gas production platform on the Yetagun field outside of Burma. The value of the contract was 75 million NOK.
As early as 1999 Kværner received massive criticism from several directions for taking assignments in Burma. So when the Singapore office accepted to upgrade the mentioned Yetagun platform in august 2001, Kjell Almskog and the rest of the European management knew exactly what they had to do: The same night as it was publicly known that Kværner once again were entering "the world's worst military dicatorship", the current spokeswoman, Marit Ytreeide said that the contract was to be cancelled. The reason was "human rights considerations." (NorWatch 8/2001)
Stalling the withdrawal
Early in march 2002, Kværner is still not finished with the job on the Yetagun field, NorWatch learns from the main office in Bærum outside Oslo. We had been trying for days to find out about the matter - first through the main office (press spokesman busy), then through Kvaerner E&C in London (nobody knows anything), then through the Singapore office (doesn't respond), then through Premier Oil in Myanmar ("is not authorized to answer") and lastly through Premier Oil in London ("does not give details on contracts"). Finally the Kværner press spokesman Geir Arne Drangeid is available:
- NorWatch has received a tip that the Yetagun contract has been re-negotiated, and that Kværner is still working in Burma. Is that correct?
- No, it is not a fact that the contract has been renegotiated, but we have to withdraw in a responsible maner.
- It is not correct that the contract is worth 30 million dollars (267 million NOK according to NTB August 21, editors note), it is a much smaller amount. Kværner was to have a mere engineering role in connection with the reconstruction of a platform.
- When do you think you will be out of Burma`?
- The withdrawal is in its final phase, but we want to do it properly. We do not want to put ourself in the situation where we have to pay (erstatning) to this regime.
- Is it still Kværner's policy not to trade with Burma.
- Yes, absolutely.
Norwatch Newsletter 3-4/02