May 16, 2001

Premier Oil’s board was under fire today as it launched its social performance report at the company’s Annual General Meeting. The report is being attacked for not addressing fundamental concerns relating to Premier’s impact on communities along its Burmese gas pipeline, and crucially the support the company provides to Burma’s brutal military junta.
“Inspector Clouseau could have done a better job of investigating the impact of Premier’s operations in Burma,” says John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “This is a half baked report that is full of flaws.”
Key concerns not addressed by the report include:
1. That refugees in Thailand who have fled abuse in the pipeline area have not been consulted. Premier say displaced communities will be consulted in the next phase of reporting, but humanitarian organizations suggest this shows the lack of priority given to them.
2. That the reporting process has no appropriate methodology for canvassing views of communities living in a repressive political context. This has been accepted by Warwick Business School, whose job it is to verify the social auditing process. They say that the repressive environment in Burma: “unavoidably compromises the ability of Premier Oil’s community stakeholders to be fully expressive.”
3. Shareholders at today’s AGM were not permitted to see the social report until after the meeting had ended, thus preventing them from asking specific questions on its findings. This is ironic when the report claims to have the interests of stakeholders at heart.
John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK says: “The social report neglects to give voice to those who have suffered most; those who have felt the negative impact of Premier’s investment as the interests of the company and Burma’s dictatorship coalesce in pursuit of resources and profit.”
The Burma Campaign suggests that issues concerning Premier’s wider responsibilities have also not been addressed. These include, says John Jackson: “the pipeline revenue which buttresses the regime, the plight of refugees who have fled the pipeline area, and the continuing military occupation of the pipeline area and the abuses that take place as a consequence. Ultimately the company has to ask itself in what political context would it consider it inappropriate to proceed with investment – where does it draw the line?”
The project can expect a total income of $823 million by 2025 from the Yetagun gas field operated by Premier.
Premier Oil have been asked to withdraw from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s legally elected government, who has said that “Premier should be ashamed of itself.” In an unprecedented move the UK government has also added its voice to the call for Premier to get out of Burma.
Ends
Notes to Editors:
– For more information more details on the Burma Campaign UK’s response to Premier Oil’s social audit or to arrange an interview please call John Jackson on 020 7281 7377, mobile 07961357391.


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