Mozambique president says TotalEnergies can safely resume $20-B gas project

(Reuters) - Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday said it was safe for TotalEnergies to restart the Cabo Delgado LNG project that was halted in 2021 after insurgent attacks on civilians.

An Islamic State-linked insurgency in the northern Mozambican province has claimed thousands of lives since it broke out in 2017, disrupting multibillion-dollar investments including the $20-B LNG project in which TotalEnergies has a 26.5% stake.

Nyusi told a mining and energy conference in Maputo that Mozambique wanted to take advantage of the current high prices of LNG and the global shift towards cleaner sources of energy.

"The working environment and security in northern Mozambique makes it possible for Total to resume its activities any time," Nyusi said.

A TotalEnergies spokesperson said that a decision to restart the project depended on assurances of security and human rights in Cabo Delgado and "a clear vision of the costs of the project after an interruption of more than two years - which must be maintained and not increase".

"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," the spokesperson said.

In February TotalEnergies said the situation in Cabo Delgado had "improved significantly" after African countries deployed troops to help Mozambique security forces deal with the insurgency in 2021.

The energy major's Chairman and Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne visited Mozmbique two months ago to meet Nyusi and review the security and humanitarian situation in Cabo Delgado.

After Pouyanne's visit, TotalEnergies announced the appointment of Jean-Christophe Rufin, who it said was an expert in humanitarian action and human rights, to independently assess the situation in Cabo Delgado province.

This assessment would help TotalEnergies and its partners to decide if conditions were right to resume the project.

TotalEnergies declined to give details on when Rufin's assessment report would be completed.

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