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Dozens of soldiers clutching AK-47s and grenade launchers watch over roaring bulldozers on the white sand beach that meets a tropical turquoise sea. They’re guarding a $23bn project to export Mozambique’s natural gas from an area besieged by Islamist insurgents.

Companies led by Total will pump the gas from wells about 40km offshore, cool it to temperatures below minus 260°F so that it turns to liquid, then ship it to electricity plants from France to China. The consortium is about to finalise almost $16bn in project financing...

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