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Case
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Reference no. 9-798-078
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: 1998
Version: 3 March 2000
Length: 24 pages
Data source: Published sources

Abstract

In 1996, Unocal Corp. joined forces with the French Total company to construct an ambitious natural gas pipeline from the Andaman Sea across the southern tip of Burma and into Thailand. At an estimated cost of $1.2 billion, the pipeline was designed to bring sorely needed energy supplies into both Thailand and Burma, and to serve as a linchpin for Unocal''s expanding Asian strategy. Soon after the deal is launched, however, officials from Unocal find themselves entangled with far-sweeping political forces and activist groups that span national borders. Because of its involvement with the SLORC, Burma''s military leadership, Unocal is being accused of complicity in a whole series of human rights abuses, including slavery and possible genocide. Chairman John Imle must decide how to respond to these accusations, and whether Unocal needs to rethink, or restructure, its operations in the face of growing international pressures.; To expose students to the conflicts firms can face when investing in countries under the control of repressive regimes.

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Abstract

In 1996, Unocal Corp. joined forces with the French Total company to construct an ambitious natural gas pipeline from the Andaman Sea across the southern tip of Burma and into Thailand. At an estimated cost of $1.2 billion, the pipeline was designed to bring sorely needed energy supplies into both Thailand and Burma, and to serve as a linchpin for Unocal''s expanding Asian strategy. Soon after the deal is launched, however, officials from Unocal find themselves entangled with far-sweeping political forces and activist groups that span national borders. Because of its involvement with the SLORC, Burma''s military leadership, Unocal is being accused of complicity in a whole series of human rights abuses, including slavery and possible genocide. Chairman John Imle must decide how to respond to these accusations, and whether Unocal needs to rethink, or restructure, its operations in the face of growing international pressures.; To expose students to the conflicts firms can face when investing in countries under the control of repressive regimes.

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