Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Monday granted an audience in Maputo to the chairperson and Chief Executive Office of the French oil and gas company, Total, Patrick Pouyanne, and the two men agreed on strengthening security at the Total camp on the Afungi peninsula, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
According to a statement issued on Tuesday by Nyusi's office, the meeting also discussed the latest developments in implementing the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project under implementation at Afungi by a consortium headed by Total.
"Among other matters, questions were discussed concerning security in the northern area of Cabo Delgado, which has been the target of terrorist attacks", said the statement. Nyusi and Pouyanne agreed on the need to draw up a security plan that guarantees implementation of the LNG project without any further upsets.
Nyusi's delegation at the meeting included Defence Minister Jaime Neto, Interior Minister Amade Miquidade and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Max Tonela.
Earlier this month, Total evacuated part of the project's workforce from Afungi because of security concerns.
The evacuation was precipitated by attempted terrorist infiltration into Quitunda, the resettlement town for people displaced by the LNG project. According to Cabo Delgado police spokesperson Ernesto Madungue, the islamist terrorists were infiltrating armed men into Quitunda in preparation for an attack.
Madungue said that, when the police discovered the terrorist infiltration, they went to the house where the infiltrators were hiding on New Years Day. They were met with shots, and returned fire. In this clash, according to Madungue, one terrorist informant was killed and a policeman was injured.
A statement from total at the time said "given the evolution of the security situation in Cabo Delgado province and in Palma district", the company had decided "to reduce the number of staff present at the project site in Afungi. The demobilisation is under way in an organised manner and in accordance with the established protocols".
Instability in the area has concerned the Mozambican authorities, since the LNG project is the largest foreign investment in the country ever, mobilising an estimated 23 billion US dollars, 16 billion financed by various banks, and the rest coming from the capital of the consortium partners themselves.
Total E&P Mozambique Area 1, Limitada, a wholly owned subsidiary of Total, operates the Mozambique LNG project, in Area One of the Rovuma Basin, with a holding of 26.5 per cent. The other members of the consortium are Mitsui of Japan (20 per cent), PTTEP of Thailand (8.5 per cent), the Indian companies ONGC Videsh Rovuma Limited., Beas Rovuma Energy Mozambique Limited and BPRL Ventures Mozambique B.V. (10 per cent each) and Mozambique's own National Hydrocarbon Company, ENH (15 per cent).
Terrorist attacks by fundamentalists linked to the self-styled "Islamic State" began with attacks on police premises in Mocimboa da Praia district on October 2017, and then spread to several other districts in the north and centre of the province.
The raiders have burnt down villages, beheaded many of their victims, and are thought to have killed about 2,000 people. An estimated 550,000 people have been driven from their homes, and are now entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance.