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It is now safe for TotalEnergies to restart work on the $20-billion Mozambique LNG project, Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi said on Wednesday, but the French supermajor says the decision to resume construction is up to all shareholders in the venture.
"The working environment and security in northern Mozambique makes it possible for Total to resume its activities any time," Nyusi said today at an energy conference in Mozambique's capital city of Maputo, as carried by Reuters.
TotalEnergies holds a 26.5% stake in the LNG project, which was put on hold in 2021 following Islamist militant attacks in towns close to the site. The project site is close to Palma in the Cabo Delgado province, where Islamic State-affiliated militants have been active for a few years. In the spring of 2021, Islamic State-affiliated militants raided Palma in attacks that left dozens of people killed.
"The restart is a decision of Mozambique LNG, not a decision of TotalEnergies, which only owns 26.5% of the project. Given the context, the decision will have to be unanimous and TotalEnergies' position is that it is appropriate to take the time to have the expected assurances before considering a possible restart," TotalEnergies spokesperson Stephanie Platat told Reuters on Wednesday.
The Mozambique LNG project is not expected to start operations until 2027 at the earliest, even if TotalEnergies quickly decides to lift the force majeure on the works and proceed with development, Stephane Le Galles, project director at TotalEnergies, told Bloomberg last month while on a visit to the construction site in northeastern Mozambique.
"From the time we restart to production, we need another four years to build the facility," Le Galles said.
In February, TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné visited Cabo Delgado and entrusted Jean-Christophe Rufin, an expert in humanitarian action and human rights, with an independent mission to assess the humanitarian situation in the province.
TotalEnergies has yet to decide when to resume the project, with several conditions needed for a positive decision, Le Galles told Bloomberg last month. Those include the same project costs, an improved security situation, Mozambique government officials returning to the towns of Palma and Mocimboa da Praia, and an assessment of the human rights conditions in the Cabo Delgado province.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,