File photo: AFP
French oil company Total has assured Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, of the payment of “outstanding amounts” to small and medium-sized companies contracted in the natural gas project in Cabo Delgado, a source from the Maputo government told Lusa on Wednesday.
The company gave the guarantees during a meeting on Monday in Paris between the Mozambican head of state and the president of Total, Patrick Pouyanné, as part of the working visit Filipe Nyusi is making to France.
“Total ensures the payment of outstanding amounts with small and medium Mozambican companies contracted under the implementation of the Golfinho/Atum project,” a source from the Mozambican government, who accompanied the meeting, told Lusa.
Mozambique and Total reaffirmed they have common objectives to develop natural gas in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
“We are working with the support of several friendly countries to train our armed forces better and have better logistical conditions and intelligence information” to curb the actions of insurgents in Cabo Delgado, the source said.
At the meeting with Nyusi, Total committed to resuming the natural gas project “as soon as security conditions are re-established.
Total suspended activities at the natural gas exploration project in Afungi following attacks by armed groups on 24 March, subsequently activating the “force majeure” clause in contractual relations with its partners in the project.
Speaking to journalists on Monday in Paris, Nyusi said Total would return to Mozambique when everything “is calm,” referring to the armed conflict in the north of the country, after meeting with the chairman of the oil company’s board.
At Monday’s meeting, the chairman of Total’s board of directors said the company had experienced a “dramatic” situation.
“Of course, we faced a dramatic situation in Cabo Delgado, in Palma, recently, so we had to make decisions,” namely “not keeping staff in Afungi,” he said, adding that the company has “full” confidence in the Mozambican government to appease the region.
“As soon as Cabo Delgado returns to peace, Total will return,” the French oil company’s CEO assured.
Armed groups have terrorised Cabo Delgado since 2017, with some attacks claimed by the ‘jihadist’ group Islamic State, in a wave of violence that has led to more than 2,500 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and 714,000 displaced people, according to the Mozambican government.
The most recent attack was on 24 March against the town of Palma, causing dozens of deaths and injuries.
The Mozambican authorities regained control of the town. Still, the attack led oil company Total to abandon indefinitely the site of the gas project scheduled to start production in 2024. Many of Mozambique’s economic growth expectations for the next decade are anchored.