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TotalEnergies Quietly Prepares for Resumption of Mozambique LNG

TotalEnergies Quietly Prepares for Resumption of Mozambique LNG

The French major is discreetly preparing to resume developing the Mozambique LNG mega-complex in the troubled Cabo Delgado province.

TotalEnergies’ general manager in Mozambique is working to have the force majeure declared two years ago by the French major on the Mozambique LNG project lifted as early as possible.

Maxime Rabilloud closely followed the early April visit to France of a Mozambican delegation from the state-owned Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH) led by its vice-president Pascoal Mocumbi as well as officials from the regulatory authority, the Instituto Nacional de Petroleo (INP). Those officials included its vice-president in charge of exploration, Inocência Maculuve. Rabilloud then travelled to Afungi in mid-April. This peninsula in Cabo Delgado province is where Mozambique LNG’s two 13m tonne liquefaction trains are to be built.

Rabilloud and the Italian energy services firm Saipem also organised a meeting in Maputo on 26 April with some of the project’s subcontractors, under the watchful eyes of the newly appointed local content manager at the mines ministry (MIREME), Antonio Cumbane.

Resumption appears imminent

Security in Afungi has improved significantly, due in part to the 2,800 Rwandan soldiers present in the province. But TotalEnergies’ security director, the former head of France’s gendarmes Denis Favier, is still wary due to sporadic actions by radical Islamists. Private security firms, notably Rwanda’s Macefield Ventures, assisted by Mozambican forces, may be deployed at some point to protect the Afungi site (AI, 23/03/23).

During his visit to the site on 3 February, TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné made the resumption of work conditional on the favourable conclusions of a report on the humanitarian situation in the province by the former French ambassador to Senegal Jean-Christophe Rufin.

The report by Rufin, who is also a former vice-president of the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières, is near conclusion and is likely to fuel optimism about resuming work on the project.

Political calendar

Work was halted in December 2020 for security reasons, and the project was officially declared under force majeure the following April. But the authorities in Mozambique, whose President Filipe Nyusi is from Cabo Delgado province, are beginning to send out the message that the force majeure has gone on long enough. This would serve their cause as local elections set for October and next year’s presidential polls draw near.

The government’s impatience with Mozambique LNG is also due to ExxonMobil’s recent expression of interest in conducting studies on liquefaction trains at Afungi as part of Rovuma LNG, which has a capacity of 18m tonnes.

Contractors interested in the project, which would consist of small 1.5m tonne LNG trains, had until 31 March to submit their tenders (AI, 29/03/23).

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Rovuma LNG has however not yet had the final investment decision (FID) that would enable the project to be launched and which then cannot be interrupted except in the event of force majeure such as a natural disaster or security threat.

TotalEnergies for its part inherited Anadarko’s FID, which was made in June 2019. The lifting of force majeure will mean that work can resume immediately.

No communication

Enthusiasm is already high among the companies retained by TotalEnergies before the force majeure was declared, notably the CCS joint venture made up of McDermott, Saipem and Chiyoda. Hiring has already begun with a view to quickly resuming work (AI, 06/03/23).

But after certain announcements made by Saipem executives, TotalEnergies instructed the firms involved in Mozambique LNG not to say anything about the timetable for the resumption of work. Total’s subcontractors are meanwhile asking for more money to cover cost increases, which the French firm is refusing.

Africa Intelligence


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