A week ago, the French oil group Total announced the restart of its mega liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique. This investment, shared with ExxonMobil, is worth almost 50 billion dollars (40 billion euros). But the violent terrorist attacks of the last few days, which led to the capture of the town of Palma and the displacement of tens of thousands of refugees, brought the resumption of the project and all other work in the area to a sudden halt. This was a sudden halt to the development of this East African country.
The province of Cabo Delgado, in the northernmost part of Mozambique’s maritime line, in the Ruvuma basin, is home to the three largest LNG projects in Africa, with the presence of the American ExxonMobil with the French Total or the Italian ENI for example. These projects promise huge investments that could make Mozambique one of the richest countries in Africa. To ensure the security of the multinational oil companies present there, the Mozambican government had announced the reinforcement of security measures in the area located within a 25 km perimeter around the installations.
But this week, the separatist militia known as Haul Sunnah Wa-Jamo (ASWJ) stepped up its campaign to seize territory in Cabo Delgado, the country’s northernmost province, and the jihadists attacked and took control of the town of Palma, just ten kilometres from the Exxon and Total gas mega-project. The number of casualties in Palma among civilians and fighters remains unknown after three days of fighting, but a dozen gas plant workers were reportedly killed trying to flee the fighting and sources speak of streets littered with corpses and decapitated people. « Total does not deplore any casualties among the personnel employed on the project site, » the French oil company said in a statement, adding that « the remobilisation of the project, which was envisaged at the beginning of the week, is of course suspended.
Other liquefied natural gas projects are being developed on the African continent, for example in Tanzania, but also the Tortue field, shared between Senegal and Mauritania, which is due to start up next year and a floating terminal off the coast of Congo-Brazzaville.