Global Policy Forum

Oil and Natural Gas in Conflict - Southeast Asia



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Is Timor-Leste's Plan for Oil Fund Investments a Risk Worth Taking? (October 24, 2011)

Timor-Leste is highly dependent on its oil revenues. In 2005, the country established a petroleum fund in order to avoid the “resource curse,” widespread corruption and inflation. But recently Timor-Leste has passed a law allowing higher-risk investments, thus changing the fund. Some experts fear that this bill will lead to higher financial risks and corruption while others argue that it will contribute to the development of the country. (Guardian)

Burmese Crossroads: Oil & Gas Rush Stokes Civil War (July 26, 2011)

In 2009, Myanmar concluded a lucrative deal with South Korea and China, which allowed the construction of cross-country oil and gas pipelines. This project has led to more than $10 billion in investment into Myanmar but without improving the living conditions of the population. The Burmese government is dispossessing people of their land. These pipelines run through the Shan state in the northern part of Myanmar, a war zone where the Burmese army has committed serious human rights abuses. (Corp Watch)


Burma, Border Build Up (October 21, 2009)

Bangladesh, Burma and India all lay claim to potentially lucrative oil and gas fields in the Bay of Bengal.  The maritime dispute between the countries is a source of increasing tension. Bangladesh has asked the United Nations to mediate, and Burma has approached the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, a technical body, to investigate. In the mean time, oil companies persist in their exploration projects. The strain caused by the dispute is not confined to maritime law - it impacts regional politics also - in particular the status of refugees along the Bangladesh/Burma border. (ISN Security Watch)

Total Impact: The Human Rights, Environmental, and Financial Impacts of Total and Chevron's Yadana Gas Project in Military-Ruled Burma

In this in-depth report, EarthRights International uncovers how the Yadana pipeline project operated by Chevron and Total in Burma has been responsible for keeping the Burmese military regime financially solvent. The multi-billion dollar profits generated by the project are deposited in bank accounts abroad, enabling the junta to ignore international pressure and deny democratic demands from the Burmese people. This report establishes a direct link between the regimes' gas revenues and its authoritarian behavior.

Burmese Villagers 'Forced To Work On Total Pipeline' (August 14, 2009)

Foreign companies' investment in Burma's oil and gas is coming under international scrutiny following the junta's decision to further detain opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. French energy company Total faces accusations of using Burmese villagers as forced labor to build a pipeline transporting gas from Burma to Thailand. An upcoming report by EarthRights International suggests that the Burmese regime is earning hundred of millions of dollars from the project. (The Independent)


E Timor's Wealth: Blessing Or Curse? (September 24, 2008)

In spite of the US$3 billion that East Timor accumulated from its oil and gas incomes, the country suffers from an unstable economy, corruption and a lack of transparency. The government does not adequately invest the natural resource revenues in education or infrastructure but subsidizes rice and fuel prices instead, leaving its citizens poor. (BBC)



Divided and Embattled East Timor to Elect a President (April 9, 2007)

Independent East Timor still suffers from malnutrition and food shortage. Meanwhile, the government keeps US$1.2 billion from oil revenues in a US fund for "future use". The unused money became a priority issue in the elections. President Jose Ramos-Horta stated "Democracy will not work if the people are hungry." (New York Times)



Oil and Gas Impasse Sours Relations (December 3, 2004)

Tensions remain high between Australia and East Timor over control of their sea border, which dictates how the two will divide oil and natural gas profits. East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta calls for a non-binding hearing from the International Court of Justice on the matter, but Canberra has thus far refused. Observers say Australia signed agreements benefiting East Timor just long enough for international attention to recede, and now seeks to exploit its poorer neighbor's natural resources riches. (Inter Press Service)

Australia's Offshore Oil Grab in the Timor Gap (December 2004)

Le Monde Diplomatique details the long-standing dispute over maritime frontiers between Australia and East-Timor and exposes an intricate web of state and corporate oil interests in the boundary negotiations. Following East Timor's independence in 2002, the United Nations Transitional Administration renegotiated the maritime boundaries fixed under Indonesian occupation. Oil companies pressured East Timor to strike an agreement, as Australia threatened to withdraw aid to the UN-administered area if it did not receive a large share of royalties.

Australia Casts a Shadow over East Timor's Future (June 3, 2004)

Australia refuses to defer to international law in resolving the sea border dispute with East Timor, claiming it is "exceedingly generous" in giving Dili a huge share of the oil and natural gas resources in the joint development area. Deploring the Australian government's stance, Senator Bob Brown accuses the government of "behaving like a wealthy neighbour that has jumped the fence and pinched vegetables from the garden of the poor family next door." (Independent)

Timorese Fury at 'Immoral Oil Grab' (April 19, 2004)

East Timorese President, Xanana Gusmao, warns that his country might become another failed state like Haiti if Australia goes ahead with the plan to exploit the oil and gas resources in the disputed Timor Sea reserves. Gusmao stresses that the potential revenue would be crucial to curb poverty, reduce disease and strengthen the democratic process in the country. (Guardian)

Australia 'Bullying' East Timor over Oil Revenue (April 19, 2004)

The Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace has accused the Australian government of unfairly seizing the Timor Sea oil revenue to the detriment of East Timor. By refusing to defer to the International Court of Justice for a resolution and deliberately prolonging the boundary talks, Australia has not negotiated in good faith, argues the Commission. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Global Wake-Up Call for Australia:Stop Stealing East Timor's Resources and Trampling on Its New Independence (January 26, 2004)

An international NGO has questioned the Australian Government's motives for prolonged negotiations concerning its maritime boundary with East Timor, and has called for Australian recognition of East Timorese resource rights. The NGO claims Australian exploitation has already "mostly depleted" the abundant oil and natural gas which deposits in the disputed Laminaria-Corallina field. (East Timor Action Network/US)



Anger in East Timor as Australia Plays Tough over Gas Reserves (October 14, 2003)

After significantly backing East Timor's struggle for independence, Australia now constitutes the main barrier to Timorese hopes of breaking free from poverty. Australia refuses to adhere to principles of international law, knowing that it would return huge underwater reserves of natural gas to East Timor. (Guardian)



Bullet Proof (December/January, 2002)

BP is preparing to build a large liquid natural gas processing plant on West Papua. Given that the island is torn between a corrupt, brutal military with its hands in the illegal resources trade and a growing independence movement, this article argues that BP's plant could worsen an already volatile political situation. (The Ecologist)

Oily Diplomacy (August 19, 2002)

The Bush administration, invoking the war against terrorism, is inappropriately protecting Exxon Mobil, a US company, which did nothing to stop murder, torture and other crimes by security forces guarding its gas fields in Indonesia. (New York Times)

US Oil Company Unocal Liable for Human Rights Abuses in Burma (October, 2002)

Human rights lawyers have filed a lawsuit against Unocal, accusing the company of hiring Burmese troops who committed human rights abuses while building a pipeline for the company. The suit "may have a chilling effect on how multinationals operate overseas." (Corporate Legal Times)



Aceh: Megawati's Toughest Test (August 20, 2001)

Prime Minister Megawati of Indonesia has signed into law a provision granting Aceh an unprecedented level of financial and political autonomy. The ongoing conflict, motivated in part by the desire to control the province's oil resources, has claimed more than 1,000 lives this year. (BBC News)

Australia Bows to East Timor Over Oil and Gas Rights (July 5, 2001)

East Timor has reached an agreement with Australia on oil and gas rights in the Timor Sea. The deal represents a huge boost for the impoverished former Indonesian province as it prepares for its first post-independence elections next month. (Independent)

RIGHTS: US Oil Giant Sued Over Human Rights Abuses in Indonesia (June 21, 2001)

The Washington-based International Labour Rights Fund (ILRF) sued Exxon Mobil Corporation on charges that Exxon paid and directed the Indonesian government forces who committed atrocities while guarding the oil company's facilities in Aceh, Indonesia. (One World)

UN-Australia Deal Is Near on Timor Oil and Gas (May 21, 2001)

Australia and the UNTAET are struggling to find a new agreement on revenue-sharing rules covering the rich oil and gas area in the Timor Sea. This zone was jointly managed by Australia and Indonesia while ruling East Timor. (International Herald Tribune)

Indonesia's Wars Over Riches (March 9, 2001)

By providing the Indonesian government with the incentive and the justification for heightening its military presence in the province, oil and natural gas in Aceh have helped to fuel the ongoing separatist conflict. (Christian Science Monitor)



East Timor's Resource Curse? (November 30, 2000)

Dependence on natural resources can severely harm a country both politically and economically, as demonstrated in Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Venezuela, and even send it spiralling into conflict. With East Timor about to enter the oil market, can it avoid this grim path? (FEER)

Raiding the Treasure House: Oil and Mineral Extraction in the Colonization of Tibet (October 13, 2000)

This report by Project Underground describes China's ongoing attempts to colonize its western provinces. The new wave of resource extraction will aid the Chinese government's population transfer policy, heighten the marginalization of Tibetans in their own country, increase militarization in an already volatile area, and promote environmental degradation.


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