Mozambique’s civilians defenceless as armed forces defend Total’s gas project

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Monday, 11 January 2021 17:03, updated on Saturday, 10 April 2021 14:49

Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi speaks with the press after voting in Maputo, Mozambique, 15 October 2019. REUTERS/Grant Lee Neuenburg

French oil major Total this month begun to remove some staff from the site of its planned Mozambique liquefied natural gas (LNG) project on the Afungi Peninsula after Islamist insurgent attacks came close to the site.

A direct assault on Afungi would be counter-productive for the Islamic extremist rebels, says Alexandre Raymakers, senior Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft in Cape Town. He says that the insurgents aim to take over major towns while tying down government forces at “hyper-defended” LNG projects.

That, he says, will enable them to “create a narrative that the government can’t defend its own people”, as it scrambles to protect LNG reserves.

Western and Asian companies are considering investments of more than a$100bn over the next two decades to develop gas projects that could produce 50m tonnes per year, says Alessandro Nanotti, a former project manager at the Rovuma LNG project for Italian oil major Eni.