The Burmese Military Regime (SPDC) and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE)

Burma’s position in South- and Southeast Asia has considerably improved over the past decades, providing the State Peace and Development Council (or SPDC, the Burmese military regime), with increased negotiating power. Specifically:

  • The regime has benefited from improved economic relations and trade with India, China, Bangladesh, and Thailand, as well as many western corporations, which provide the financial basis for its grip to power.
  • The SPDC has considerably expanded its armed forces. In the 1990s alone, it struck deals with China worth over US $2 billion.
  • Despite international criticism, in 1997 the country was admitted to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)
  • Burma is rich in natural resources, including gems, minerals, timber, oil and natural gas. Despite sanctions and investment bans imposed by the United States and the European Union, some Western corporations continue to work with the SPDC military regime.

Oil and gas in Burma

The Burmese military regime relies to a large extent on foreign exchange to maintain its power. Since Burma opened to foreign investment in late 1988, contracted investment in the oil and gas sectors has reached more than US $2.5 billion, making it the largest source of foreign investment foEarly meetings between Daewoo International Corporation and the Burmese Junta to decide the fate of the SHWE gas reserves in the Bay of Bengal off the west coast of Burma.r the SPDC.

Shaking Korea and Myanmar Oil and gas exploration and production projects in Burma have one thing in common: All must be undertaken in full cooperation with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
MOGE and the Shwe project.

MOGE is a fully state-owned enterprise within the SPDC’s Ministry of Energy. The Enterprise acts to oversee and reap profits from oil and gas deals with foreign corporations. Thus, MOGE is also in charge of overseeing the joint venture that is planning and executing the Shwe Project.

According to some estimates, the Shwe Project could generate over one billion US dollars in annual revenues. This would be a considerable financial injection into the brutal Burmese regime, indeed the country’s largest source of foreign income. Foreign corporations involved in the project would ultimately contribute to sustaining a regime who’s record of large-scale human rights abuses is widely known and condemned.

Moreover, the SPDC continues to invest in expanding its armed forces, currently the largest per-capita in Southeast Asia, by using profits reaped through such deals to supply its armed forces instead of investing in the welfare of its people. Ultimately, if the Shwe Project is allowed to proceed unchecked, the suffering of the Burmese people under the military regime will not only continue, but become more entrenched.


[1] Economic Collaboration with Foreign Entrepreneurs – Joint Venture Enterprises
[2] Doing Business in Myanmar
[3] Business and Human Rights Resource Centre – Burma