Maputo — The French oil and gas company Total, the operator of the Mozambique-LNG project in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, has reached an agreement with the Mozambican government over the security of the project.
According to a Total press release issued on Monday, the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government which provides that a Joint Task Force will ensure the security of project activities on the Afungi peninsula in Palma district, and "across the broader area of operations of the project".
The release states that "Mozambique LNG shall provide logistic support to the Joint Task Force", and that the government "is committed that the Joint Task Force personnel shall act according to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR)".
The memorandum, Total adds, "demonstrates the project's commitment to meeting its milestones in a secure manner, while creating local opportunities and bringing meaningful social and economic benefits for the province of Cabo Delgado and the country".
Cited by the release, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Max Tonela, said: "We are proud to continue working with the Mozambique LNG project to ensure the country benefits from its presence. This Memorandum of Understanding bolsters security measures and endeavours to create a safe operating environment for partners like Total which enables their ongoing investment in Mozambican industry, for small and medium enterprise and for our communities"
For his part, Ronan Bescond, the chairperson of Total in Mozambique, said: "In recognition of the benefits the Mozambique LNG project will bring to local communities, the country, and all parties involved in the project, Total and the Government of Mozambique are committed to enable steady progress towards a successful delivery of the project".
"In view of the security situation in Cabo Delgado, our priority is to ensure the security of our workforce, many of whom reside in neighbouring communities, and of the project operations", Bescond added .
Total operates Mozambique LNG with a 26.5 per cent participating interest. Its partners in the consortium are Mozambique's own National Hydrocarbon Company, ENH (15 per cent), the Japanese company Mitsui (20 per cent), the Indian companies ONGC Videsh, Beas Rovuma Energy, and BRPL Ventures (each with 10 per cent), and PTTEP of Thailand (8.5 per cent).
Mozambique LNG is the first onshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique. Gas from the Golfinho and Atum fields, located in the Rovuma Basin Offshore Area One, will be pumped to the Afungi Peninsula where a factory with two liquefaction units, with the capacity to produce 13.1 million tonnes of LNG a year, is to be built.
The Final Investment Decision for the Mozambique LNG project was announced on 18 June 2019, and the project is scheduled to come into production in 2024.
The main security threat is posed by islamist terrorists, known locally as "Al Shabaab", although they do not seem to have any direct connection with the Somali organisation of that name. The Cabo Delgado group now forms part of the international terrorist network calling itself "Islamic State" (and also known as ISIS or Daesh).
The terrorists are operating in several districts in the northern part of Cabo Delgado, and earlier this month occupied the port of Mocimboa da Praia, about 80 kilometres south of Palma.