French energy giant Total will resume construction on its $ 20 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) development in Mozambique after the government tightened security, the company said on Wednesday.
In January, after an attack nearby, Total withdrew most of its workforce from its site in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, where there has been an insurgency since 2017, now linked to the so-called province of L Central Africa (ISCAP) by Daesh. terrorist group.
The company has asked the government for additional security measures, including a 25 kilometer (15.53 mile) secure buffer zone around the site.
He said on Wednesday that this had now been implemented, allowing for the “gradual remobilization” of the project workforce and a resumption of construction work.
“The government of Mozambique has declared the area within 25 kilometers of the Mozambique LNG project as a special safety zone,” Total said in a statement.
He added that other measures, including strengthening of security infrastructure and strengthening of Mozambique’s security forces, had also been implemented.
Total said that control of the 25-kilometer area remained exclusively carried out by Mozambique’s public security forces and that the government was committed to ensuring that personnel assigned to protect the project act in accordance with international human rights standards. the man.
Amnesty International this month accused government forces and insurgents of committing war crimes in the province, where insurgents have stepped up their attacks over the past year.
In 2020, the group began to conquer entire cities on a regular basis.
The conflict has killed more than 2,500 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a consultancy that tracks political violence.
Some 700,000 others have been driven from their homes, according to United Nations estimates.
In August last year, Total E&P Mozambique Area 1, operator of the LNG project, said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Mozambique regarding the safety of project activities in the country’s northernmost province. , ravaged by the insurgency.
The pact, without giving details, would guarantee Total logistical support for a joint task force set up to guarantee the security of the activities of the LNG project in Mozambique in the area.
It was interpreted at the time as a step that would risk jeopardizing the reputation of the French oil giant in exchange for securing its investment area. A report released by global intelligence firm Stratfor on August 25 said the security deal between the African country and Total would reduce threats to Total’s project in Palma and the Afungi Peninsula, but without eroding capabilities. activists throughout the region, leaving the rest. of Cabo Delgado vulnerable to insurgent attacks.
The company, meanwhile, being one of the victims of the coronavirus pandemic that has reduced energy demand around the world, reported a net loss of $ 7.2 billion in 2020, according to data from February. , compared to a profit of $ 11.2 billion the previous year.