Unocal Case

Topics: Human rights, Burma, Petroleum Pages: 4 (1238 words) Published: July 20, 2010
In the world of business, maintaining a profit on the edge of ethics is always a difficult issue. Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) has invested in an international project outside of America. This project requires the construction of a pipeline to transport natural gas to Thailand. Though the corporation mentioned the benefits the local people would get, this project would violate numerous human rights abuses indirectly affecting Unocal’s reputation. Let's further analyze the situation and evaluate whether Unocal was right, or what suggested a course of suitable actions for all parties in this case.

Unocal Oil Company of California or Unocal was established in 1890. Its main business was to develop oil fields around Los Angeles and other parts of California. After 100 years of operations and development, Unocal had expanded into different aspects of the oil industry (Velasquez, 2006, p. 119). This was not only a challenge but also an opportunity for Unocal as most of the oil fields in the United States nearing depletion. Hence, the corporation had looked outside America for opportunities. “Yamada Field” was their answer. It was an attractive natural gas field that belonged to Burma. To perform this project, it required Unocal to cooperate with one of the world’s most repressive military regimes, Burma’s State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Strongest condemnations by the US Congress, US State Department and other international organizations had been issued for SLORC (Velasquez, 2006, p.120). Hence, the question was whether Unocal made the right decision in signing the contract with the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise or not.

Unocal had violated not only human rights but also property rights of local people living across the route of building pipeline to Thailand. Especially, the Karen people were the most affected most. They are a hostile minority group inhabited in the South of Burma where the last...
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