The president of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi and the chairman and CEO of French oil major Total Patrick Pouyanné have agreed on Monday to further strengthen security around the natural gas venture in Cabo Delgado, a source close to the government told Lusa.
“Total and the government are in agreement: what is going to happen is a reinforcement of security measures,” said the same source, without however detailing how that reinforcement is going to happen.
“The project is to continue, keeping to the planned dates,” i.e. starting operations in 2024, the Total source added.
The meeting on Monday, in addition to the president of Total, Patrick Pouyanné, and the president of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, was attended by Max Tonela, minister of mineral resources and energy, and the two ministers linked to the Defence and Security Forces: the interior minister, Amade Miquidade, and the defence minister, Jaime Neto.
Rebel groups that have been terrorising Mozambique’s northern province for three years have increased attacks in 2020 and have approached the construction site led by Total, leading to a slowdown in the project and the departure of staff at the end of the year.
This is the biggest private investment underway in Africa, estimated at between €20B and €25B, and it is one of Mozambique’s main hopes for development in the coming decades.
On 24 August 2020, Total had already announced a revision of the memorandum of understanding with the Mozambican government for the operation of a joint security force including the defence and security forces (FDS) to protect the project.
In explanations to Lusa, the French oil company said at the time that “the revision of the security memorandum reflects the increase in activities during the construction phase and the mobilisation of a larger workforce.
So far, engineering and procurement activities (the so-called ‘procurement’ phase) have been taking place, with 2021 being the year for the start of the construction phase of the gas city and industrial zone for the liquefaction of the gas to be brought ashore from the drilling of the sea bottom of the Rovuma basin.
Ronan Bescond, director general of Total in Mozambique, had said at a conference in Maputo in October that “a safe environment and a robust road network are preconditions for the project to fulfil its promise to catalyse the growth and development of Palma district and the country.
The armed violence in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, is causing a humanitarian crisis with around 2,000 deaths and 560,000 displaced people, without housing or food, mainly in the provincial capital, Pemba.
Some of the incursions have been claimed by the ‘jihadist’ Islamic state group since 2019, but the real origin of the insurgency remains under debate.
Source: Lusa via Club of Mozambique