The logo of French oil giant Total is seen at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie, near Paris, France. Picture: REUTERS
The logo of French oil giant Total is seen at La Defense business and financial district in Courbevoie, near Paris, France. Picture: REUTERS

Oil and gas major Total will join forces with the Mozambique government to bolster security measures around its natural gas project in the Southern African country following a ramp-up of Islamic insurgent activity in the area.

A new Memorandum of Understanding between the government and Total, the operator of the Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in the north of the country, will see a joint task force established to ensure the security of the project’s activities in Afungi site and across the broader area of operations of the project.

The Mozambique LNG project will provide logistic support to the Joint Task Force, Total E & Mozambique Area 1 Limitada, a subsidiary of Total, said in a statement on Monday.

The $20bn Mozambique LNG project is the country ’s first onshore LNG development and will exploit a significant natural gas find off the coast of Northern Mozambique.

The final investment decision for an even larger $30bn onshore LNG project, Rovuma LNG, led by ExxonMobil and Eni, is anticipated in 2021.

The insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has been continuing, and growing, since 2017. In mid-August, insurgents took control of the port town of Mocimboa da Praia in the province after running battles in which a reported 55 Mozambique army staff were killed and 90 wounded.

Total said the government of Mozambique was committed that the joint task force personnel should act according to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights — a global multi-stakeholder initiative which is designed to minimise the risk of human rights abuses in communities located near extraction sites.

“The memorandum 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,” Total said in a statement.

Mozambique’s minister of mineral resources and energy, Ernesto Max Elias Tonela, said the Memorandum of Understanding bolstered security measures and endeavoured to create a safe operating environment for partners such as Total, “which enables their ongoing investment in Mozambican industry, for small and medium enterprise and for our communities”.

Ronan Bescond, country chair of Total in Mozambique, said that given the security concerns, “our priority is to ensure the security of our workforce, many of whom residing in neighbouring communities, and of the project operations”.

“We appreciate the support provided by the government of Mozambique for the secure delivery of the project,” he said.

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