U.S. stumps for oil, gas ties to Myanmar

June 29, 2012 at 7:26 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 29 (UPI) -- U.S. oil and natural gas companies are losing out to European counterparts in the move to tap into the resource potential in Myanmar, a lawmaker said.

U.S Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, spoke during a hearing for Derek Mitchell's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Myanmar.

U.S. and European governments moved closer to Myanmar after a series of political steps in Myanmar, formerly called Burma, which began with general elections in 2010.

Inhofe said that he was "very interested" in getting U.S. oil and natural gas companies into the country as quickly as possible.

"Unfortunately, that is not yet happening, and in the meantime, European Union oil and gas companies have been there since the suspension of EU sanctions against Burma in April, and of course China and Russia are there," he said.

French supermajor Total said that, as of 2007, Myanmar was producing around 180,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, with 90 percent of that represented by natural gas.

"I believe that U.S. companies, including the oil and gas companies, can play a positive role in the effort by demonstrating high standards of responsible business conduct and transparency, including respect for human rights in Myanmar," said Inhofe.

Despite political developments in Myanmar, there are concerns about government transparency, the influence of the military and human rights.

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