A group of 124 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have presented an open letter to the financiers of TotalEnergies in northern Mozambique, asking them not to go ahead with this “disastrous project” led by an oil company that “cannot be trusted”.
The open letter released this Friday, 17 November, states that “this is a crucial moment; the ‘force majeure’ invoked in the Mozambique LNG project gives banks and export credit agencies an opportunity to reconsider their involvement in a project that has been disastrous even before it was built, and in which TotalEnergies has proven to be completely dishonest”.
“We, as civil society in Mozambique and around the world, are aware that TotalEnergies is currently approaching banks and export credit agencies to secure renewed support following the lifting of ‘force majeure’,” which led to the suspension of construction work in 2021, “and we know that this renewal of support cannot and should not happen without a reassessment of the project,” the letter argues.
In the letter, the NGOs call for “a truly comprehensive and independent assessment of the project as a prerequisite for any decision, including the guarantee of civil society participation, an end to the contribution [of the financiers mentioned in the letter] to human rights violations and the climate of crisis” and a commitment from the financiers to “publicly withdraw any support for the other gas projects in Mozambique, namely Rovuma LNG and Coral North LNG”.
The letter is signed by NGOs such as Alternactiva – Action for Social Emancipation, Fund Our Future or the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) and the promoters target multilateral financing institutions such as the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Afreximbank and the African Development Bank, as well as private institutions such as Société Générale, Crédit Agricole, JP Morgan, Standard Chartered or ABSA Bank.
These NGOs consider that the project will perpetuate the problems of the population and implies the permanence of a “strong contingent” of military personnel to ensure the security of the operations, warning of an “increase in attacks” when the work starts again and the lack of environmental concern on the part of the French oil company.
The province of Cabo Delgado, rich in gas and with exploration projects led by multinationals already underway, has been facing an armed insurgency for six years that has killed around 4,000 people, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and displaced a million people, according to official figures.
Mozambique has three development projects approved to exploit the natural gas reserves in the Rovuma basin, classified as one of the largest in the world and located off the coast of Cabo Delgado province.
Two of these projects are larger and involve channelling the gas from the seabed to land, cooling it in a plant and then exporting it by sea in a liquid state.
One is led by TotalEnergies (Area 1 consortium) and work progressed until it was suspended indefinitely after the armed attack on Palma in March 2021, when the French energy company declared that it would only resume work when the area was safe. The other is the still unannounced investment led by ExxonMobil and Eni (Area 4 consortium).
A third completed, smaller project also belongs to the Area 4 consortium and consists of a floating platform for capturing and processing gas for export, directly at sea, which started up in November 2022.