The Mozambican health authorities have authorised the French oil and gas company Total to resume its natural gas activities on the Afungi Peninsula, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Total heads the consortium which is building two factories in Afungi to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG). Work was interrupted in April after a outbreak of the Covuid-19 respiratory disease was detected at the Total camp. The cases in Afungi became the largest known cluster of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Since April, work at Afungi was reduced to a bare minimum, which threatened the calendar for building the LNG plants.
Speaking in Maputo on Sunday, during the Ministry of Health’s daily press conference on the Covid-19 situation, the deputy general director of the National Health Institute (INS), Eduardo Samo Gudo, announced that the outbreak in Afungi has been brought under control, “and this means that activities in Afungi can go back to normal”.
Asked about the likely date for an effective resumption of operations in Afungi, Samo Gudo replied “this is a decision that depends on the owner of the camp (i.e. Total). What we are saying is that, from an epidemiological point of view, the outbreak has been controlled”.
Of all the dozens of Total workers who were held in isolation at their quarters in the camp, all but one have been discharged. A sample from this worker is being tested, and if it proves negative, he too will be discharged.
Samo Gudo said that strict measures have been taken within the camp to avoid any possible recontamination. “Since it’s a closed area, the concern now is not to import cases”, he said. “We are witnessing an acceleration of Covid-19 cases outside the camp, but inside the camp it’s controlled”.
Measures to keep the camp free of Covid-19 had been approved by the Ministry of Health, but Samo Gudo recognised that these measures could imply additional costs. This was a situation affecting companies throughout the world and not just in Mozambique.
It was urgent, he added, “to make the transition to what is being called the new normal. That means we learn to live with this virus in a context in which strict measures are taken”.
Total is the operator of the “Mozambique LNG” project, based on the offshore gas fields in Area One of the Rovuma Basin. Total holds a 26.5per cent stake in Mozambique LNG. Its partners are Mitsui of Japan (20 per cent), PTTEP of Thailand (8.5 per cent), the three Indian companies, ONGC Videsh, Bias Rovuma Energy, and BRPL Ventures (10 per cent each), and Mozambique’s own National Hydrocarbon Company, ENH (15 per cent).