This week, Total announced the suspension of its activities in northern Mozambique, due to the terrorist threat. Total was involved in a huge gas project.
Already involved in several controversial projects in East Africa, in particular because of the ecological or social consequences, Total has decided to suspend its activities in Mozambique. It was the violence in the north of the country that prompted the group to make this decision. Since 2017, more than 2 people, mostly civilians, were murdered in northern Mozambique, where mercenaries, the army and terrorists operate. Now, dn the framework of the Mozambican liquefied natural gas (LNG) megaproject, Total had sent many employees to the Afungi site, in the north of Cabo Delgado province. All Total personnel present on site are requested to vacate the premises.
This, Total assures us, is a case of "force majeure". The oil group's decision owes a lot to the terrorist attack at the end of March, which prompted a deployment of the Mozambican armed forces. While several rebels had been killed, the situation is far from being stabilized. Indeed, other clashes between terrorists and law enforcement broke out two weeks ago. Located a few kilometers from Palma, the Total site can no longer be secured.
The security situation therefore had to deteriorate for Total to suspend its activities. Neither the criticisms of the local populations nor those of the environmental NGOs had, until now, been right about this gas megaproject.
The plan calls for - or foresaw - the construction of the first onshore LNG plant. An important project for the government, which sees it as a good card to play for its national economy. According to the plan presented by the Mozambican authorities, gas fields and two liquefaction infrastructures were to enable the release of nearly 13 million tonnes of LNG per year. All for the sum of $ 20 billion.
But Total's departure, if it is not yet final, is a blow to the government of Mozambique: more than 16 of the 20 billion dollars already mobilized from international banks and financial institutions, among which the African Development Bank (AfDB) were approved by Total. The suspension of the multinational's activities could therefore weaken the project.
Total leaves an entire region economically abandoned. But also the local populations in the face of violence. “The people of Cabo Delgado are caught between the Mozambican security forces, the private militia fighting alongside the government and the armed opposition group known locally as Al-Shabab - none of which respects their right to life or the rules of war ”, accuses Amnesty International in a report, which affirms that many security companies were present on the spot.