MOZAMBIQUE’S great hope of economic recovery now lies in tatters after a brutal two-day attack by insurgents threatens the future of multibillion dollar liquified natural gas (LNG) projects in the north of the country, and left dozens dead.
The group known as al-Shabaab, believed to have Islamic State ties, attacked the town of Palma in the northern province of Cabo Delgado on March 24, just hours after Total announced it would be resuming infrastructure construction on its Afungi field after the Mozambique government established a 25km security zone around the project.
The French energy company bought a 26.5 percent stake in the development for $3.9bn in 2019, but stopped operations in December 2020 after regular skirmishes by al-Shabaab in the nearby countryside grew closer to its facilities.
Palma is located 8km from the Total camp and is the base for many of the companies involved in the LNG projects.
In a statement on March 27, Total said it has decided to reduce to a strict minimum level the workforce on the Afungi site. ‘The remobilisation of the project that was envisaged at the beginning of the week is obviously now suspended. Total trusts the government of Mozambique whose public security forces are currently working to take back the control of the area.’