Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun. General Than Shwe in military parade, 27 March 2010, at the same time that the Fredriksen company Seadrill was drilling outside Burma.
By Erik Hagen
On 28 April 2010 Norwatch revealed that Seadrill, one of the biggest companies on the Oslo stock exchange, has repeatedly had contracts in Burma. The last assignment took place in April this year. According to Burmese authorities, this contract is to end on 15 May.
“We encourage companies to refrain from trading with or investing in Burma because we do not want either Seadrill or other Norwegian companies to contribute to financing a military dictatorship. In addition, Norway endorses EU’s measures against Burma, which, among other things, include a ban on investments in certain types of enterprises in Burma and the import of certain categories of goods,” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in an e-mail to Norwatch.
“This is the fifth Norwegian rig company to get involved in the oil industry in Burma since the dissuasion policy was initiated in 1997. What kinds of measures does the Ministry utilise to inform about the Burma dissuasion?”, Norwatch asked.
“We give advice on Burma to companies that contact us and through www.landsider.no and otherwise through the media,” Communication Adviser Bjørn Svenungsen wrote to Norwatch.
“Will the Ministry do anything with regard to Seadrill?”
“We shall continue to encourage Norwegian firms not to trade with or invest in Burma,” Svenungsen wrote.
Norwatch has also received access to a letter from the Norwegian embassy in Canberra, Australia, to Seadrill in Singapore, in which the embassy points out to Seadrill that it is Norwegian policy to stay out of Burma. The letter from the Norwegian embassy was sent as a result of a meeting with the Australian Burma Committee.
PGS Refused Burma
Last year the Norwegian seismic services company PGS told Norwatch that they had recently refused an assignment in Burma, precisely because of the Ministry’s dissuasion. This is in stark contrast to the rig company Seadrill.
Seadrill stated to the Norwegian Broadcasting System (NRK) that they do not take the Ministry’s dissuasion into consideration and that they do not consult the Ministry on such matters.
“Nobody applauds what is happening in Burma. But there are different opinions about how we, as a third party, should to behave in this case. Some believe that interaction, presence and dialogue are right, whereas others believe in isolation and boycott. How we should behave in this case is therefore not given,” Seadrill Communications Director Hilde Waaler told NRK.
Seadrill informed Norwatch that they do not wish to comment on the matter.