The future of Mozambique’s gas ambitions hinges on its ability to end a deadly insurgency linked to Islamic State, but if peace is the answer the southern African country and French energy giant TotalEnergies may have a problem. Four months after gunmen overran Palma, a town housing TotalEnergies contractors near its Afungi site in Cabo Delgado province, the insurgents still control swathes of territory and a key port while the army is in tatters, security experts, military personnel, company officials and insiders told Reuters.
TotalEnergies has said its $20 billion gas project will remain on hold until security is restored in the province in a “verifiable and sustainable manner”. At the end of April, it estimated the delays would last at least a year. The Mozambican government says Palma itself is now pacified and it is working to ensure peace in Cabo Delgado. But as recently as June, the United Nations refugee agency said people fleeing areas adjacent to the TotalEnergies site reported ongoing insecurity and gunfire.
“A year strikes me as very optimistic,” said Sam Ratner, an analyst with Cabo Ligado, a media and civil society project tracking the violence in northern Mozambique. An even bigger project led by Exxon Mobil is now also on hold with minority partner Galp telling Reuters that re-establishing security was essential and that it would not move forward until TotalEnergies returns.
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