Maputo – The head of French energy giant TotalEnergies is expected this week to visit Mozambique, where a multi-billion-dollar gas project has been on hold since a 2021 jihadist attack, according to government sources.
CEO Patrick Pouyanne is to fly to the southern African nation to discuss conditions for the possible restart of operations in restive Cabo Delgado province.
Pouyanne “will hold meetings… for the resumption of activities interrupted as a result of the terrorist action,” a Mozambican official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He is expected to hold talks with President Filipe Nyusi and government ministers, the sources said.
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TotalEnergies said it did not comment on travel arrangements.
Mozambique has set high hopes on vast natural gas deposits – the largest found south of the Sahara – that were discovered in the Muslim-majority northern province in 2010.
If all the deposits are tapped, Mozambique could become one of the world’s 10 biggest gas exporters, according to estimates.
But the region has since been hit by an insurgency waged by Islamic State-linked militants, casting doubt over the scheme.
TotalEnergies halted its $20 billion LNG project in 2021, after a deadly raid on the coastal town of Palma.
The attack triggered the deployment of forces from Rwanda and southern African countries which have since helped Mozambique retake control of much of Cabo Delgado.
But sporadic and low-level jihadists attacks continue in part of the province.
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Pouyanne’s visit is likely to fuel expectations that TotalEnergies is closer to resuming work in the impoverished region.
In November, the first export shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the area left Mozambique for Europe.
But the LNG was produced at Coral Sul, a floating facility managed by Italian company Eni.
The deep-water scheme has so far been spared from the risk of attack, whereas Total’s project is onshore.
The conflict in northern Mozambique has claimed more than 4,500 lives, 2,000 of them civilians, and forced around a million people to flee their homes.
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