French multinational energy company Total has secured US$14.4 billion in funding for a natural gas exploration project off the northern coast of Mozambique, according to two unnamed sources who spoke to Reuters. One of the sources said Total had worked out a financing scheme with more than twenty lenders, but did not name them. This follows Total’s acquisition of a 26.5 percent stake in a liquid natural gas (LNG) project for US$3.9 billion from United States-based Anadarko Petroleum in September 2019.
Total is not the only company that has been looking to invest in the natural gas rush in Mozambique: China National Petroleum Corporation, Shell, ExxonMobil, and BP have all been vying for plots to exploit.
There have already been significant costs for the average Mozambican
Economists have spoken of the potential windfall this project could end up being for Mozambique’s economy, yet there have already been significant costs for the average Mozambican. The offshore reserves are located in Cabo Delgado province, a region that has been Mozambique’s poorest for decades. Those living close to where the planned on-shore facilities will be constructed have already seen their lands confiscated, some allege without compensation, to make space for energy interests.
A 2016 Anadarko report concluded that 550 families would have to relocate, and a further 952 would lose access to their cultivated land. The region has also suffered a growing insurgency that has claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced tens of thousands more, leading to calls by companies such as Total and ExxonMobil for a stronger military presence. Unable to contain the attacks, President Filipe Nyusi has had to turn to mercenary groups to help quell the insurgency.