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Norwegian Deliveries to Controversial Platform in Burma

The Norwegian companies Noreq and National Oilwell Varco have delivered equipment to a platform that will pump up gas for the military regime in Burma.
Artikkelen er mer enn to år gammel. Ting kan ha endret seg.
The Norwegian companies Noreq and National Oilwell Varco have delivered equipment to a platform that will pump up gas for the military regime in Burma.

By Erik Hagen
The illustration shows a fraction of all the villages that will be affected or demolished because of the generals’ development of the Shwe field. The photo shows only a small part of the pipeline, which will go all the way to China to the north. (Illustration: EarthRights International/GoogleEarth)
The English translation of this article was published on 4 April 2011.

The Future in Our Hands has recently revealed that National Oilwell Varco (NOV) from the Norwegian city of Kristiansand is involved in deliveries to a Korean platform that will pump up gas for the brutal Burma regime.

“Deliveries from us – yes, that’s probably right. I am not acquainted with this specific project, but it is probably correct,” Managing Director Eirik Bergsvik answered on being questioned as to whether the company has delivered equipment to the upcoming Hyundai platform offshore Burma.

After a discussion with his colleagues, Managing Director Bergsvik sent the following comments to The Future in Our Hands:

“National Oilwell Varco complies with relevant laws and regulations in all its activities, including in connection with any possible deliveries to a final product going to Burma. With regard to deliveries to the Shwe field, we request that contact is made with Hyundai, since we can not comment on this because of a confidentiality clause in the contract,” he wrote.

The Kristiansand company and Hyundai Heavy Industries have previously collaborated on several construction projects. Now they are cooperating on the technology for a platform to be used in the Shwe gas field offshore Burma, but it is uncertain what kind of equipment the Norwegian concern is to deliver.

While the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against business involvement in Burma, NOV has become one of the fastest growing firms in Norway. In 2009 it doubled its sales from 12 to 24 billon Norwegian kroners.

The lifeboat company Noreq in Husnes, Hordaland, has also obtained a large contract with Hyundai Heavy Industries for the platform in the Shwe field. In contrast to NOV, Noreq announced the delivery itself on its own web pages in September.

The agreement includes four lifeboats and four sets of so-called rig davits. The news about the Noreq delivery was explained as “enormously important” for the company. According to Noreq, the equipment is to be used in “Myanmar”, which is the junta’s name for the country.

The Future in Our Hands awaits further comments from Noreq, as well as of clarifications from Hyundai with regard to details of the Korean company’s agreement with NOV.

Hyundai Heavy Industries has a contract worth 1.4 billion USD to develop Burma’s gas industry. In addition to the platform, Hyundai will construct pipelines, gas terminals and port facilities. Everything is to be finished by 2013.

According to a report by EarthRights, made public in Oslo in December 2010, abuses tied to this concrete gas project have already started to take place. The organization fears that open conflict will break out when the gas pipeline is to be placed through the country and into China. Villages along the future pipeline corridor have already had their properties confiscated, and troops from the Burmese army are being moved towards the area where the gas pipeline will be constructed. When a similar, but shorter, pipeline was constructed to Thailand, serious abuses, murder and forced labour ensued.

During the past few years The Future in Our Hands has exposed a series of Norwegian firms participating in the oil industry in the South Asian country. Early in 2010 we wrote about five Norwegian rig companies that had been involved in boring projects in Burma.

The boring ship Frontier Duchess, owned by Frontier Drilling of Bergen, carried out test well drilling in the same Shwe field already in November of 2004. “We had a drilling job for the Korean company Daewoo and have not entered into any agreement with the military junta,” the company stated when The Future in Our Hands’ Norwatch project revealed the situation in 2006.

GIEK Closed for Burma Support
NOV stated that in Burma situations it consults Norwegian authorities but has not specified which Norwegian authorities it might have been in touch with about this involvement.

The central Norwegian governmental agency responsible for furnishing guarantees and insurance of export credits, GIEK. stated that it can not support projects in Burma, not even platforms that are being constructed in Korea and will then be used in Burma.

“We abide by the international sanctions and are closed for guarantees in Burma,” Marika Nilsen, Head of Communications in GIEC, told The Future in Our Hands.

“No Burma Contract for Seadrill”
On 6 January 2011 the Norwegian News Agency (NTB) wrote that one of the rigs belonging to the Norwegian company Seadrill was probably on its way to Burma. The source was the Burmese web site Mizzima. The Future in Our Hands then got in touch with Seadrill’s representatives in Singapore, who denied that there existed any contract for sending the rig to Burma. The rig is now located offshore Singapore.

“If we had had discussions about such a task, we would in any case not have broadcast it,” the West Jumo rig’s Marketing Coordinator, Per Hellebo, told The Future in Our Hands. We did not succeed in obtaining comments from Seadrill.

To the Norwegian news agency NTB, the company does not deny that it will send the rig to Burma in the future.

“The Asiatic region is growing rapidly, which opens up many possibilities, and we wish to participate in this development. This may mean that we shall start to invest in Burma if our customers wish us to,” Hilde Waaler, Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, in Seadrill, told NTB.   

Send us tips about Norwegian assignments in Burma! Send an e-mail to norwatch@framtiden.no