TotalEnergies plans to resume this year the natural gas project in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, which was suspended in March 2021 after an armed attack, said the company’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanné today.
“My goal is that [the project] restarts in 2022, but I am not alone. We are ready”, he said at the Presidency of the Republic building in Maputo, after a meeting with the Mozambican head of state, Filipe Nyusi.
The construction of the gas liquefaction plant, extracted from the seabed (about 40 kilometres offshore) is the largest currently financed private investment in Africa and was suspended in March 2021.
An armed attack on the town of Palma, which was home to subcontractors and many of the project’s workers, led to the use of “force majeure” (a contractual term for “force majeure”, in which neither party can be held responsible) to stop all the work in progress.
“I am optimistic”, said Pouyanné, about the resumption of works, although without commitments.
The CEO of TotalEnergies said that the next time he returns to Mozambique, he wants to be able to go “to Palma, Mocímboa da Praia and Mueda”
“When I see that life is back to normal, with State services and the population, then the project can start over”, he said.
Patrick Pouyanné said that “a lot of progress has already been made and I want to congratulate the Mozambican authorities who together with Rwanda and SADC [Southern African Development Community] managed to get a lot done”.
A joint military force has been fighting insurgent groups in the region.
Pouyanné referred to two crucial points, Mocímboa da Praia and Palma, pointing to them as safe places now.
“But there is still some progress to be made in order to have sustained security. We want to see the population and villages return to their normal lives”, he highlighted.
MoU for training 2,500 young people from Cabo Delgado
Pouyanné today signed an agreement with the Mozambican authorities for training actions for 2,500 young people from Cabo Delgado, with a view to creating job opportunities arising from the ongoing investments.
A theme that, he mentioned, is linked to security issues.
“The normalization of social life is part of security, it is not just a matter for the armed forces,” he said.
The Mozambican President said that the oil company “did not leave because it wanted to”.
Likewise, the population “left because it was attacked, but it will return”, as normalcy is resumed, Nyusi said, recalling a request made to him during a visit to Palma:for people to be able to travel peacefully in the province.
Satisfied with the military advance on the insurgency, the Head of State hopes to see this tranquillity reign throughout the province soon.
“It’s not like we’re singing victories, but we are working and enjoying the work that the young [military] are doing”, the President underlined.
Regarding Pouyanné’s presence in Maputo, Nyusi commented that “this visit was important to assess what is happening” and promised joint work.
“One of the things we are going to do quickly, together, is to try to bring tranquility to life” in Cabo Delgado, the President told reporters at the end of the meeting with the leader of TotalEnergies.
Cabo Delgado province is rich in natural gas, but has been terrorised since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.
The conflict has already caused more than 3,100 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and more than 817,000 displaced people, according to the Mozambican authorities.
Since July, an offensive by government troops with the support of Rwanda, which was later joined by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has increased security, recovering several areas where there was a presence of rebels, namely the town of Mocímboa da Praia, which had been seized in August 2020.