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  1. #1
    Mid
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    Burma : Norwegian firm Seadrill heads back

    Norwegian firm Seadrill heads back to Burma
    Thomas Maung Shwe
    Wednesday, 05 January 2011 22:39

    Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - The Norwegian firm Seadrill will set up its ‘West Juno’ gas drilling rig in Burmese waters to undertake contract work for the Thai oil firm PTT Exploration & Production Company Ltd (PTTEP).

    The rig will be in Burmese waters for four months.

    Construction of the Seadrill’s newest rig was completed in Singapore in December 2010.

    Seadrill came under fire last year from Burma activists for drilling work in Burma conducted for Twinza Oil, an Australian company.

    Activists raised concerns over human rights violations linked to oil and gas developments in the country and pressed its withdrawal.

    Companies working in Burma have come under fire for financing military rule.

    In 2010, the Norweigan News Agency, quoted Seadrill spokesperson Hilde Waaler as saying the company had “no plans of signing any new contracts for work in the country”

    However, Seadrill’s return to Burma was disclosed in late December by Braemar Falconer, a Singapore based offshore engineering consultancy firm that will be assisting Seadrill with the PTTEP contract.

    Seadrill had performed drilling work for PTTEP in Burmese waters before on its ‘West Ariel’ rig.

    The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told independent news service Norwatch it encourages companies to “refrain from trading with or investing in Burma”.

    The spokesperson said they didn’t want Seadrill or other Norwegian companies to “contribute to financing a military dictatorship”.

    “Norway endorses the European Union’s measures against Burma, which, among other things, include a ban on investments in certain types of enterprises”.

    However, Norwegian firms are not legally prevented from doing business in Burma, nor are they subject to the EU sanctions.

    Norway is one of the few European nations not a member of the union.

    Seadrill’s shares are traded on the both the Oslo and New York stock exchanges and while the firm is subject to United States sanctions, their activities in Burma are not affected.

    Washington prohibits firms from making new investments in Burma, but there is a loophole for ‘technical services’. However, technical services must be provided to companies not blacklisted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

    Transocean, a Swiss-American drilling firm, is under investigation by OFAC because the company conducted offshore drilling work for a consortium that included a blacklisted firm owned by junta crony and alleged drug lord Stephen Law, and his father Lo Sit Han.

    Seadrill and its partner Braemar Falconer could not be reached today for comment.

    Japanese rig to drill off of Arakan coast

    Another offshore drilling rig owned by the Japan Drilling Company (JDC), will head to Burma’s Arakan coast later this month as part of a job for Daewoo International, lead consortium partners in the Shwe gas project.

    JDC- Japan’s only oil drilling firm signed a $41.34 million drilling contract that runs from January 15 to March 1 of this year.

    The company’s semi-submersible rig will drill four deep sea wells in Burmese waters near Sittwe. The contract also contains an option to drill a possible fifth well.

    JDC has previously drilled offshore in Burma for Malaysia’s state owned firm Petronas.

    mizzima.com

  2. #2
    Mid
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    West Juno sets sail for Burma
    07 January 2011

    Norway’s Seadrill will set up its jack-up rig West Juno in Burmese waters to drill wells for Thai state-run PTT Exploration & Production (PTTEP).

    The Mizzima News Agency reported the newly built rig would operate in Burmese waters for a total of four months.

    Seadrill came under fire from Burma activists last year from drilling work it conducted in the country for Australian company Twinza Oil.

    Last year the Norwegian News Agency quoted Seadrill spokesperson Hilde Waaler as saying the company had “no plans of signing any new contracts for work in the country.”

    However, Singapore-based Braemar Falconer revealed last month that it would be assisting Seadrill with the PTTEP contract.

    The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told independent news service Norwatch it encourages companies to “refrain from trading with or investing in Burma”.

    The spokesperson said they didn’t want Seadrill or other Norwegian companies to “contribute to financing a military dictatorship”.

    “Norway endorses the European Union’s measures against Burma, which, among other things, include a ban on investments in certain types of enterprises,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

    However, Norwegian companies are not legally prevented from doing business in Burma, nor are they subject to the EU sanctions as it is not a member of the union.

    Seadrill’s shares are traded on the both the Oslo and New York stock exchanges and while the company subject to United States sanctions, Mizzima reported its activities in Burma were not affected.

    Washington prohibits companies from making new investments in Burma, but there is a loophole for ‘technical services’. However, technical services must be provided to companies not blacklisted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

    Seadrill and its partner Braemar Falconer could not be reached today for comment.

    Mizzima reported Japan Drilling Company (JDC) would also be sending a rig to Burma’s Arakan coast later this month under contract from Daewoo International for the Shwe gas project.

    JDC signed a $41.3 million contract that runs from 15 January to 1 March to drill four deep-water wells in Burmese waters near Sittwe, with option to drill a possible fifth well.

    upstreamonline.com

  3. #3
    Mid
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    The Volatile Viking Drills Again
    SEAMUS MARTOV
    May 22, 2012


    Norwegian shipping tycoon John Fredriksen, pictured in Oslo in 2006.
    (PHOTO: Reuters)

    The West Callisto, an offshore drilling rig owned and operated by the Norwegian-Bermudian firm Seadrill, arrived in Burmese waters earlier this month to carry out work for French multinational oil firm Total, confirmed a spokesperson at Seadrill’s Oslo headquarters.

    While previously the Norwegian government publicly discouraged Norwegian companies from doing business in Burma, it reversed its policy earlier this year and now encourages firms to do business in Burma, officially known as Myanmar.

    Speaking to The Irrawaddy, Wong Aung, the director of the Shwe Gas Movement, a coalition group which follows Burma’s growing offshore gas sector, said, “I am very concerned that the Norwegian government is encouraging businesses to go to Burma when there is no transparency or accountability in the extractive sector,” said the Arakan native. “Everything is still controlled by military cronies, and massive corruption is still everywhere.”

    Seadrill most recently operated in Burma last year when its rig, the West Juno, conducted drilling work in an offshore block jointly owned by UNOG, a firm controlled by the family of former Industry Minister–1Aung Thaung and Rimbunan Petrogas, a Malaysian-owned British Virgin Islands-registered company.

    Former general-turned-parliamentarian Aung Thaung stands accused of being one of the masterminds behind the 2003 Depayin massacre in which dozens of NLD activists were killed []Page not found | The Irrawaddy Magazine while his sons, who were targets of EU sanctions, have become rich and are heavily invested in timber, construction, electricity, banking and hotels, in addition to oil and gas exploration.

    Seadrill’s Fleet Status Update for May shows that the West Callisto will operate on a three-month contract for Total beginning May 12, at a day rate of US $134,900, netting the firm more than $12 million for the full 90-day contract. [http://www.seadrill.com/stream_file.asp?iEntityId=1380]

    Seadrill’s second largest shareholder is the Norwegian national pension fund whose 5.6 percent stake is managed by state firm Folketrygdfondet. It is unclear however how much of a role Folketrygdfondet plays in monitoring Seadrill’s overseas activities, or whether the pension fund was even aware that Seadrill’s operations in Burma were benefiting Aung Thaung’s family business. Folketrygdfondet’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

    Last year Seadrill also conducted drilling work in Burmese waters for Thailand’s PTTEP. In 2010, Seadrill’s West Triton was hired by Australian oil firm Twinza to fulfill a 30-day contract in an offshore Burmese block.
    In 2009, the West Atlas, a Seadrill rig hired by PTTEP, caught fire in the Timor Sea between Indonesia and Australia. The resulting leak continued for two months and spilled huge amounts of oil into the sea, causing one of Australia’s worst environmental disasters. Wong Aung said he worries a similar situation could occur in Burma in the near future.

    Seadrill’s patron in this case, Total, for years came under continued criticism for its close cooperation with former dictator Than Shwe’s military regime. The French multinational company’s partner UNOCAL (later taken over by Chevron) were sued by displaced Karen villagers both in France and in the US for profiting from the Burmese army’s use of forced labor, torture and murder during the construction of the Yadana pipeline in the Andaman Sea.

    Documents from Total’s correspondence with UNOCAL were disclosed during the US court case—papers the villagers’ lawyers called the “smoking gun memo.” A Feb. 1, 1996, memo from Total Business Development Manager Hervé Chagnoux to his counterparts at UNOCAL substantiates the claim that Total paid the Burmese military to provide security. It also suggests that Total was well aware of the use of forced labor.

    The memo stated: “As far as forced labour used by the soldiers in charge of security on our gas pipeline project is concerned, we must admit between ourselves, TOTAL and Unocal, that we’re probably in a grey area.”

    In October 1999 a French parliamentary committee investigating the Yadana project concluded: “The mission judges that the link between the military presence, the acts of violence against the populations, and the forced labor is established as a fact. Total had to be aware of that fact.”

    Over the course of a lengthy career, Seadrill’s chairman and owner, the billionaire shipping tycoon John Fredriksen, has endured what the Financial Times termed a “lifetime of controversies.” This includes being held for more than three months of pre-trial detention in 1986 after Norwegian authorities accused him and a tanker firm he owned of tax evasion, fraud and illegally siphoning off fuel from tankers to power them, a dangerous practice that could cause an explosion.

    After a lengthy court battle that lasted four years, the most serious charges were dropped and Fredriksen paid a $333,000 fine for the “level of inflammability” used in the fuel storage areas of his tankers.

    Gunnar Stavrum, the editor of Norway’s Nettavisen newsite, has written two unauthorized biographies on the world’s largest shipping tycoon. He calls Fredriksen “a rough businessman.” Fredriksen earned the nickname the “Big Wolf” in 1980′s for shipping oil out of Iran at the height of the Iran-Iraq war and at a time when Saddam Hussein was regularly bombing Iranian shipping lanes. His critics charged that Fredriksen’s dealing with Iran made him “the lifeline to the Ayatollah.”

    Other descriptions aimed at him include “a modern-day Onassis,” and—in the words of The Guardian—the “Volatile Viking of Shipping.”

    In 1996 the Sea Empressan, an oil tanker owned by one of Fredriksen’s firm’s, spilled an estimated 70,000 tons of oil off the Welsh coast, causing one of the worst environmental catastrophes in British history.

    Then Fredriksen made headlines again last year when US regulators announced they were suing two other companies owned by the Scandinavian shipping magnate (who now holds Cypriot residence to avoid paying tax in Norway) for manipulating oil prices.

    The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) launched suits against Arcadia Petroleum Ltd and Parnon Energy Inc. The CFTC alleges that the firms and their employees ran a “scheme in 2008 involving accumulation and sell-off of a substantial position in physical crude oil to manipulate futures prices, yielding in excess of $50 million in unlawful profits.” []404 Page Not Found - CFTC

    In an interview with Reuters last year Fredriksen claimed that he was unaware of anything improper occurring at either firm. “I did not know a thing about it—I have about 50 companies, how can I follow everything?” he said.
    A leaked 2009 US diplomatic cable obtained by Wikileaks claimed Arcadia and its representative in Yemen sought to corner the local oil market by buying “Yemeni crude at below-market value and scared away potentially more competitive bidders by threatening to kidnap their representatives.”

    []09SANAA1782: NEW CRUDE OIL SALES MECHANISM SPARKS TRIBAL RIVALRY

    When Reuters first revealed the cable’s contents last year Arcadia dismissed the allegations as “ludicrous.”

    Fredriksen is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a net worth of more than $10 billion, and was considered to be Norway’s richest man before 2006 when he took Cypriot citizenship. He remains the largest shareholder in Seadrill with 23 percent of the company’s shares, down from the 28 percent he owned earlier this year.

    irrawaddy.org
    Last edited by Mid; 22-05-2012 at 06:58 PM.

  4. #4
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    Suu Kyi Visit Revives Norway-Junta Oil Row
    June 15, 2012


    Natural gas is Burma's largest export earner.

    (Photo: Irrawaddy)

    Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Oslo on Friday to belatedly collect her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize has reignited calls for a probe into Norway’s alleged ties to Burma’s crony-run oil and gas industries.

    Activists have called on the Norwegian government to investigate whether offshore drilling giant Seadrill violated sanctions last year when its rig performed exploratory work in a gas field co-owned by the sons of former junta Industry Minister Aung Thaung.

    “The Norwegian government should investigate all matters of inappropriate behavior in business that is related to nepotism and corruption,” Espen Skran a spokesperson for the Norwegian Burma Committee, told The Irrawaddy.

    Meanwhile, Suu Kyi told delegates of the International Labour Organization on Thursday that, “investment in the extractive industries should be approached with particular care.”

    “What I would like to see for our country is democracy-friendly development growth,” she said. “I would like to call for aid and investment that would strengthen the democratization progress by promoting social and economic progress that is beneficial to political reform.”

    The European Union eased trade sanctions on Burma in the wake of reformist President Thein Sein’s tentative program of democratization, but calls remain to investigate those who sought to circumnavigate restrictive measures while they were in place.

    Aung Thaung, now serving as an MP in Burma’s Lower House of Parliament, is considered by many in Burma’s opposition to have played a key role in organizing the Depayin massacre of May 2003 when a mob of stick-wielding junta thugs attacked Suu Kyi’s convoy and killed several of her supporters.

    The M1 block where Seadrill’s West Juno rig conducted drilling work in May and early June 2011 is co-owned by UNOG Pte Ltd, which is owned by two of Aung Thaung’s sons—Nay Aung, who serves as the firm’s chairman, and Pyi Aung.

    Seadrill’s work in the M1 block came despite Nay Aung and Pyi Aung being named on the EU sanctions list in effect at the time. Although Norway is not in the EU, Oslo officially adopted the EU Burma’s sanctions program until they were largely lifted in May.

    Suu Kyi told a press conference in Geneva on Thursday that she does not think controversial oil giants Total or Chevron should withdraw from Burma. The two firms both had business interests inside the country before the imposition of trade sanctions and were therefore allowed to continue working inside the country.

    “I find that Total is a responsible investor … it is sensitive to human rights,” she said. The presence of both companies in Burma has been contested by human rights activists who accuse them of enriching the former military junta. In response, Total argues that it contributes to the impoverished Southeast Asian nation’s development.

    irrawaddy.org

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