Eni led a group that signed off on a $7bn investment in a project to export natural gas from Mozambique.

The country’s president, Filipe Nyusi, and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi attended a ceremony in the capital Maputo on Thursday, to formally approve the Coral South liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. Once built, the floating LNG plant, with a capacity of about 3.4-million tonnes a year, will draw gas from the Rovuma Basin where Eni made its first major Mozambique find in 2011.

"We’re finally transforming this resource into money," Nyusi said. "We expect it will help us to bring the economy back to the performance of the last decade."

The investment decision gives momentum to resource development in Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, that’s also been struggling with a debt crisis. It failed to make an interest payment on a Eurobond in January, becoming the first African nation to default in six years.

"This is really good news for the government of Mozambique," said Alasdair Reid, research manager for southern and east Africa at Wood Mackenzie. "It demonstrates that, despite ongoing credit issues, there is still enough belief in the investment climate for partners to raise finance and move projects forward."

LNG contract

BP has a 20-year contract to buy all LNG production from the Coral plant, being developed by Eni in collaboration with Galp Energia, Korea Gas and Mozambique’s state-owned Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos. The group has ratified the final investment decision, Galp said in a regulatory filing on Thursday.

In March, Exxon Mobil said it would buy half of Eni’s stake in Area 4, offshore from northern Mozambique. While Eni will continue to operate the Coral floating LNG project and all the subsea wells and pipelines in the block, Exxon will lead the construction and operation of onshore liquefaction facilities.

The construction contract for the floating LNG unit was awarded to the TJS venture that includes Technip, JGC and Samsung Electronics, Galp said. First gas production is expected in 2022.

The group has secured $6bn in financing from 15 banks, Eni’s Descalzi said at the signing ceremony. The remaining amount will be financed by the shareholders.

Saipem also signed an offshore drilling contract with Eni, which includes development of the Coral field, commencing in mid-2019, the company said in a statement.


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