By Erik Hagen
The English translation of this story was published 5 May 2011.
Several organisations fear that a new gas field that the Burmese military junta is opening may lead to a serious spiral of violence and increased conflicts in Burma. In January this year The Future in Our Hands reported that Noreq had delivered equipment to Hyundai’s platform off the coast of Burma, in the controversial Shwe field.
The company’s involvement is, however, no longer to be found on the web pages of the lifeboat producer. The article itself has been removed, and only the top horizontal title strip of the deleted article now remains: “Noreq signs new orders worth 22 million NOK”.
The article that has now been deleted related that Noreq had received an “enormously important” contract with Hyundai for the delivery of four lifeboats and four so-called rig davits. According to Noreq, the equipment was to be used in “Myanmar”, which is the junta’s name for the country.
“We have no comments,” Managing Director Styrk Bekkenes told The Future in Our Hands and then hung up when we called on 3 March to ask for explanations of the involvement and the deleted article.
The company had then already failed to answer three e-mails from The Future in Our Hands since December 2010.
Update (9 March 2011): After The Future in Our Hands mentioned the vanished lifeboats on 4 March, and other Norwegian media had picked up the issue, Noreq has sent us an e-mail in which it confirms the delivery. The company explains that it can not provide details because a non-disclosure clause in the contract and for the same reason has removed the article from its web pages.
“Questions about details in our contract with Hyundai must be directed to the shipyard. Noreq has no agenda or involvement supporting the regime in Burma. The company offers maritime equipment solutions requested by most countries and areas, and we have little opportunity to supervise our customers’ further connections/activities,” Sales Director Bjørn Sturle Hillestad told The Future in Our Hands.
Hyundai Discloses Information
When writing about Noreq in January this year, The Future in Our Hands also revealed that another company, the Kristiansand firm National Oilwell Varco (NOV), has a huge contract for the same platform. The contents of the NOV commission have now been confirmed by Hyundai Heavy Industries.
“National Oilwel Varco supplies drilling equipment and a pedestal crane”, Kim Moon-ju, one of the company’s information managers in Korea, told The Future in Our Hands.
The pedestal crane can be used to lift material from supply boats to aboard the gas platform. They can also be used to transport materials from one location on the platform to another. Hyundai has not answered our query as to the size of the Norwegian contract.
It is, however, unclear what the relationship is between the lifeboat producer Noreq and the Korean concern. Even though Noreq had written on its web pages that it had a large contract with Hyundai, The Koreans’ answer may indicate something else.
“National Oilwell Varco is the only company working with Hyundai Heavy for SHWE project”, Hyundai wrote to The Future in Our Hands, stating there are no other Norwegian firms except for National Oilwell Varco working with the firm.
Noreq has not responded to repeated queries from The Future in Our Hands about how Hyundai can claim this, as long as Noreq itself has put forth information that it has a contract with Hyundai.
It is unclear whether Hyundai does not define the production of lifeboats as working for the development of the platform. Without lifeboats the installation would in any case not be approved and put to use.
Mankind and Profits
Korean Hyundai defends its involvement in Burma – even though one of the company’s core values is supposed to be “to care about mankind
"In which ways does Hyundai believe that the Shwe project is in accordance with the Core Values of your firm, as described on Hyundai's webpages?
“We work with our business partners for mutual benefit", was Kim Moon-ju’s concise reply to The Future in Our Hands.
Hyundai did not reply to queries from The Future in Our Hands as how it contributes to mankind by entering into collaboration for the profit of the Burmese junta.
The latest available results, on 31 December 2009, showed that The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global had invested 69 million NOK in Hyundai Heavy Industries.
This Is the Statement That Was Removed from Noreq’s Web Pages:
Noreq signs new orders worth 22 million NOK
The last couple of weeks have been very encouraging for Noreq AS, with several big contracts being signed – worth a total of 22 million NOK. In addition to the size of these contracts Noreq is happy to announce that we have managed to enter new important markets.
“We have won a contract of enormous importance with the world’s biggest shipyard, Hyundai, in Korea. This is really a milestone for Noreq and shows that the development of our new davit system has been a right initiative. Hyundai has ordered four lifeboats and four sets with rig davits. They are part of the SHWE project, a platform that will produce gas for Myanmar,” informs Managing Director Styrk Bekkenes.
This is Noreq’s first order in Korea.
“There is no doubt that this is something big, and with this first step in the Korean market, we have reasons to believe in new orders from that area. The sales of davits show that we have made the right decision when we decided to develop this new davit concept. The special thing with these davits is that all components are built-in in contrast to other davits. We are the only company that manufactures these types of davits,” explains the Managing Director, Styrk Bekkenes.
This article was first published in Norwegian 4 March 2011, with update on 9 March 2011.