Premier is an oil and gas exploration and production company. Founded in Scotland in 1934 as the Caribbean Oil Company to prospect in Trinidad, the company went on to work in the North Sea, Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan, Vietnam, West Africa and the Falklands/Malvinas.
You can find our 2001 Company Profile of Premier and other articles in the right hand column of this page.
For a more critical perspective on Premier‘s work, try the Burma Campaign or the Argentine Embassy.
Market share / importance
Premier Oil is a relatively small company devoted entirely to the ‘upstream’ sector of the industry – the exploitation of oil and gas – as opposed to the ‘downstream’ refining and retail sector. The company has 445 employees and a sales of £99.4 million (US$ 136.35 million) in 2000 .
Premier Oil was first registered in the UK in 1934 (then as the Caribbean Oil Company) to exploit oil and gas in Trinidad.
Premier Oil acquired its first interest in the North Sea in 1971. In 1977 it gained further access to the UK continental shelf as well as properties in Sudan and West Africa by merging with Ball and Collins North Sea Consortium. Its 12.5% share in the onshore oil field at Wytch Farm in Dorset acquired in 1984 (and the subsequent offshore extension of this field) is still making an important contribution to the revenues.
Premier Oil has been established in Burma since 1990 (and insists on referring to the country as Myanmar, the name given by its military dictatorship). In 1992 the Yetagun Gas Field was discovered there and gas sales to Thailand from that field started in May 2000. Since then offshore facilities have been constructed in the Gulf of Martaban, 124 miles off the west coast of Burma and a 168 mile long pipeline has been constructed to the Thai border. This $650 million project is Premier Oil’s biggest (Premier’s stake in it is estimated to $200 million) and is expected to yield gas for the coming 20 years.
In 1995 Premier Oil acquired Pict Petroleum. As part of this deal, Amerada Hess (previously part-owner of Pict) came to hold 25% of Premier Oil’s enlarged equity.
In 1996 Premier oil acquired Sumatra Gulf Oil Ltd and Discovery Petroleum in Indonesia, giving them a majority interest in the Natuna Sea Block A (including the Anoa oil field).
In 1998, Premier and Shell created a joint venture company to in Pakistan which is now involved in 11 concessions and five significant gas fields. In May 2001, Shell pulled out of this project (further information in Corporate Crimes below).
Premier Oil is aiming to establishing itself as a leading independent oil & gas production company in Asia through strategic partnerships with Petronas and Amerada Hess .
 Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000
 Most of the information is in this section is gathered from ‘Our History’ at Premier Oil’s homepage: www.premier-oil.com/framebuilder.asp?ft=business&link=yes&docid=6&sc=b-52
 See ‘Alliance’ at Premier Oil’s homepage, www.premier-oil.com/framebuilder.asp?ft=business&link=yes&docid=218&sc=b-50
Who, Where, How Much?
Head office 23 Lower Belgrave Street
Phone: +44 (0)20 7730 1111
Fax: +44 (0)20 7730 4696
Registered office 4th Floor, Saltire Court
20 Castle Terrace
Structure / Ownership
Major shareholders :
Amerada Hess (parent company of Amerada Gas which supplies domestic gas to households in the Midlands) 25%
Petronas International Corp (Malaysian oil prospecting company) 25%. [Petronas is also Talisman’s partner in Sudan together with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). Allegations have been made against these companies for complicity in abuses by security forces displacing local people .
Keppel Corporation 3.02%
Further UK shareholders in Premier Oil as of 24th January 2000 are :
• Guardian Royal Exchange life insurance company – 4.73%,
Major overseas shareholders include:
• Sanford C Bernstein & Co Inc – American financial services corporation -4.27%,
• Aegon UK PLC – subsidiary of Dutch life insurance company – 2.17%
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Board of Directors 
Executive directors Charles Jamieson, Chief Executive (total income of £365,900 from Premier in 2000)
Richard Liddell, Operations Director (responsible for production, development and health and safety activities)
John van der Welle, Finance Director
Non-executive directors Sir John David, Chairman (also non-executive director for Balfour Beatty plc, The St Paul Companies Inc and BOC Group plc)
Scott Dobbie Ian Gray John Orange Rupert Lascelles Azam Alizai Dato’Mohamad Idris Mansor Sam Laidlaw (President and Chief Operating Officer of Amerada Hess Corporation)
Tan Sri Dato’Mohd Hassan Marican [President and Chief Executive Officer of Petronas, Chairman of Engen Ltd South Africa]
Premier Oil Exploration Ltd*
Exploration, production and development, UK
Premier Pict Petroleum Ltd*
Exploration, production and development, UK
PCO Trading Ltd*
Oil trading, UK
PCO Finance Ltd
Premier Petroleum Myanmar Ltd*
Exploration and development, Myanmar
Premier Oil Natuna Sea BV*
Exploration, production and development, Indonesia
Premier Oil Australia Pty Ltd*
Holding Company, Australia
Premier Oil Holdings Ltd
Holding Company, UK
• Held through subsidiary undertakings.
Investments in other entities (ordinary shares held):
Anglo Albanian Petroleum Ltd (50%)
Exploration and production, Albania
Taninthayi Pipeline Company Ltd (26.7)
Pipeline operations, Myanmar
Global Resources Ltd (50%)
Production and development, Myanmar
Australian Worldwide Exploration NL (22.9%)
Exploration and production, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina
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Bankers  Barclays Bank plc,
Chase Manhattan Bank N.A,
Financial advisors  Shroeder Salomon Smith Barney
Stockbrokers  SG Securities Ltd Bloxham Stockbrokers
Auditors  Ernst & Young, Becket House, 1 Lambert Palace Rd, London, C2V 5DB, England
Solicitors  Slaughter and May, 35 Basinghall Street, London, EV2V 5DB, England
Denton Wilde Sapte
PR firm  College Hill
 Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000, p. 28.
 See the Amnesty International report ‘Sudan: The Human Price of Oil’, online at www.web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/index/AFR540012000, or Christian Aid’s report ‘The Scorched Earth: oil and war in Sudan’, online at www.christian-aid.org.uk/indepth/0103suda/sudanoil.htm.  From ‘UK Cash Fuels Burma’s suffering’ by David Cohen, from issue 10 of Corporate Watch magazine. www.corporatewatch.org.uk/magazine/issue10/cw10f3.html  Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000, pp.25 and 31 (here you will also be able to see the income of all directors.
 Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000, pp. 46 and 47.
 From Hemscott.net, online at www.hemscott.com/equities/company/cd00859.htm  ibid.
 Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000, p. 61
Products and Projects
Premier Oil has licence interests in eight countries: Albania, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Myanmar, Netherlands, Pakistan and the UK .
They have ongoing projects in the following countries: Albania, Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan and the UK (several in the North Sea, Wytch Farm and Wareham) .
 Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000, p.60.
 See pp. 8-13 in Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000, for a brief summary of the activities in these countries.
The development of the Yetagun gas project in Burma is now Premier Oil’s largest asset by value . Burma is governed by one of the world’s most brutal military regimes (euphemistically known as the State Peace and Development Council, previously SLORC – State Law and Order Restoration Council). It used to be one of south east Asia’s most prosperous countries, but has now been given the United Nations’ Least Developed Country status – putting it in the same league as sub-Saharan African countries . The regime has been charged by the UN International Labour Organisation with a ‘crime against humanity’ for its systematic abuses of human rights . It was condemned internationally for annulling the election in 1990 which was won by the opposition party National League for Democracy, putting its leader, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in house arrest and detaining many of the party members .
Premier Oil was the first company to sign an exploration deal with Burma’s military regime for the exploitation of the Yetagun offshore gas field in May 1990. The development is now a joint project between Nippon Oil of Japan, Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT), Petronas (Malaysia’s state owned oil company) and the Burmese state oil company, the Myanmar Oil and Gas Company (MOGE). Even though Premier’s share is only 27%, they are the main operator of the project .
The Yetagun pipeline travels down the same route cleared for the Yadana pipeline, built in the mid-nineties by a joint venture between America’s UNOCAL and Total of France. The building of the pipeline lead to the heavy militarisation of the area. During the construction of the Yadana pipeline systematic relocation of villagers, forced labour and other human rights abuses took place in the area.
In 1996 the campaign group Earth Rights International (ERI) published a report describing how SLORC troops tormented local villagers. Many of those who did not flee to refugee camps in Thailand were put to work in forced labour camps. A US Embassy report issued in July 1996 stating that: ‘The military continued to force ordinary Burmese on a massive scale (including women and children) to contribute their labour, often under hard conditions, on constructing projects around the country’.
Men and women interviewed by ERI told how they were made to work as porters for soldiers and forced to clear forest on the pipeline route. There were numerous reports of torture, rape, looting and the destruction of property in the area. ERI points out that SLORC soldiers are infamous for this sort of behaviour, and the pipeline was simply a new opportunity for them to exercise these tactics. UNOCAL and Total denied the reports.
In 1997, following long-standing protests against Western investment in Burma, President Bill Clinton introduced US economic sanctions against the regime. At the time Texaco and Premier Oil were joint partners in the Yetagun project. Following Clinton’s sanctions Texaco pulled out of the venture. Premier Oil bought part of Texaco’s share and thus increased its stake from 20% to 27%.
According to UN and World Bank measures, the situation for Burma’s population is deteriorating. The profits paid to the Burmese government will fund the military regime. The military dictatorship spends nearly half of its annual budget on the army; just 8% is spent on health and education. Income from foreign investment and trade strengthens the regime’s stranglehold on its population.
In 2000, the British government urged Premier Oil to pull out of Burma, because of the human rights situation. The government said that it would not take any measures to force Premier Oil out of Burma, but hoped that they would do so voluntarily . Burma’s democratic leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi has also pleaded to Premier to halt investment until the restoration of democracy. ‘Premier Oil is not only supporting this military government financially, it is also giving it moral support, and it is doing a great disservice to the cause of democracy. It should be ashamed of itself’ .
Premier Oil defends its Yetagun pipeline on the basis that it has been built after Unocal/Total’s and that many of the accusations relate specifically to this project. However, Premier Oil clearly states in it’s publication, ‘Yetagun Year 2000’, that it has profited from the infrastructure built by Unocal/Total. Furthermore, in June 2001, Amnesty International released a report documenting serious human rights abuses committed by two Light Infantry Battalions who provide pipeline security .
Premier Oil has tried to curb the heavy criticism that it receives from campaigners and government by claiming that they contribute towards positive development in Burma. This has involved co-ordinating human right seminars in the country, attended by representatives from the local government , though such activities can only be seen as window-dressing in a country fully aware of its human rights abuses, and without freedom of speech, assembly and movement. Premier Oil has also established a socio-economic programme intended to provide the local community with knowledge and practical skills.
A social audit was carried out by EQ management on behalf of Premier Oil in 2000. ‘The Social Performance Report 2001’ is however seriously flawed. The report does not take into account the practical reality of current life in Burma. Warwick Business School, who verified the report, comment: ‘…given the acknowledged repression of critical political comment in Myanmar (Burma), the verifier is concerned that community members wanting to address negative issues relating to Premier Oil’s national political impact, and/or the ramifications that this might have at the local level, will feel restricted… In the present political environment this unavoidably compromises the ability of Premier Oil’s community stakeholders to be fully expressive…’ . They also note that ‘EQ spent less than one full day consulting local community members, clearly insufficient time to identify a representative range of indicators and issues when there are in excess of ten villages impacted by Premier Oil’s operations.’ The refugees, who fled to Thailand as a result of the persecution around the construction of the pipeline, were not consulted at all, even though two Thai NGOs offered to facilitate meetings between EQ and the refugees .
The social audit completely fails to take into consideration the wider responsibilities of Premier Oil, such as: the pipeline revenue which supports the regime, the refugees who have fled the pipeline area, the continuing military occupation of the pipeline area and the abuses that take place as a consequence .
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Pakistan In 1997, the Pakistan government issued licenses to Lasmo Oil (state owned Pakistani company), Shell and Premier Oil, to explore for natural gas in Kirthar National Park. The next year Premier and Shell formed a joint venture company for exploration and production. Kirthar National Park is Pakistan’s biggest wildlife sanctuary harbouring a wide variety of animal and plants (examples include the unique Sindh ibex (a mountain goat), desert wolves, striped hyena, golden jackal, and no less than eight species of eagle).  The park is included in the UN’s list of protected sites.
Campaign groups are trying to stop the development in court. The park was protected under the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance, which was amended by the current mil;itary regime without reference to parliament . Earlier this year, the Governor of Sindh province, Mohammed Mian Soomro – a director of Shell-Pakistan until he became Governor last year – amended the wildlife laws to allow pipeline construction in the park. The oil minister in the federal military Government, Usman Aminuddin, is a former director of a Shell subsidiary. 
The development is opposed by several NGOs, including: Friends of the Earth, Sungi Development Foundation, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Creed Alliance, Scope, Shirkat Gah, The Network, Aurat Foundation, WWF, Green Press, Christian Studies Centre, and Strengthening Participatory Organization.  Shell has pulled out of the project in May 2001 by swapping their share in the joint venture with Premier Oil for a share in Premier’s the Bhit natural gas field in another part of Pakistan. 
Friends of the Earth is presently pursuing a lawsuit against Premier Oil relating to its explorations in Pakistan (contact Friends of the Earth for updates, contact details in Further information and resources section below).
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 The text below is in part based on ‘UK Cash Fuels Burma’s suffering’ by David Cohen, from issue 10 of Corporate Watch magazine. www.corporatewatch.org.uk/magazine/issue10/cw10f3.html. The analysis of the social report is taken largely from The Burma Campaign UK’s report, ‘Destructive Engagement: Premier Oil’s Social Report and Burma’ by John Jackson.
 Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000, p.12.
 For information on the Least Developed Countries and Burma (Myanmar), see www.unctad.org/ldcs/index.html  Forced labour in Myanmar (Burma), Report of the Commission of Inquiry appointed under article 26 of the Constitution of the International Labour Organization to examine the observance by Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), Geneva, 2 July 1998, online at www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/gb/docs/gb273/myanmar.htm  For a brief history of Burma see www.burmaproject.org/CRISIS/index.html  ‘Destructive engagement: Premier Oil’s Social Report and Burma’, John Jackson, The Burma Campaign UK
 ‘UK urges oil firm to quit Burma’, Financial Times, 12/4-00
 ‘Destructive engagement: Premier Oil’s Social Report and Burma’, John Jackson, The Burma Campaign UK, p. 6
 Myanmar, Ethnic Minorities: Targets of Repression, June 2001, available online at: http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/Index/ASA160142001? OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIESMYANMAR
 Premier Oil, Annual Report & Accounts 2000, p. 22
 ‘The Social Performance Report’ 2001, p 70
 ‘Destructive engagement: Premier Oil’s Social Report and Burma’, John Jackson, The Burma Campaign UK
 ‘Shell Pulls Out of Kirthar, FoEI Lawsuit Delivers Swift Results’, Friends of the Earth, www.foei.org/LINK/LINK97/0402.html  Drillbits and Tailings, Volume 6, Number 4, May 17, 2001
 FoE, newsupdate, Wednesday, 9 May 2001, ‘Shell pulls out of Pakistan National Park’
 Drillbits and Tailings, Volume 5, Number 14, August 31, 2000
 ‘Shell Pulls Out of Kirthar, FoEI Lawsuit Delivers Swift Results’, Friends of the Earth, www.foei.org/LINK/LINK97/0402.html
Links, contacts & resources
For information on Premier Oil’s involvement in Burma:
The Burma Campaign UK 3rd Floor, Bickerton House
25-27 Bickerton Road
London N19 5JT
Tel: 020 7281 7377
Fax: 020 7272 3559
For information on Premier Oil’s involvement in Pakistan:
Friends of the Earth Craig Bennett
FoE England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Tel: 44 20 7566 1667
Pager: 07654 588 862
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Paul de Clerck
Tel: 31 20 550 7300
E-mail: Paul.de.Clerck@milieudefensie.nl www.foei.org/
Project Underground www.moles.org/ Monitors mining and oil companies. All issues of Drillbits & Tailings referred to above can be found on their site.
‘UK Cash Fuels Burma’s Suffering’ by David Cohen
Article on Premier Oil in Burma from issue 10 of Corporate Watch magazine.
For a financial analysis of Premier Oil, visit www.corporateinformation.com and choose from one of the profiles.
Total Denial Continues Report by Earth Rights International (ERI) on the effects of Total’s pipeline building. The report features first hand testimonies from several hundred victims, witnesses and army defectors interviewed in the pipeline corridor.
The report is available online at www.earthrights.org/pubs/td2000.html 2012 Massachusetts Ave.NW Ste. 500
Washington DC 20036
Tel: +1 202 466 5188
Fax: +1 202 466 5189