Japan pledges to work with Mozambique towards restarting $20bn LNG project

By Thulani Mpofu November 29, 2023

Mozambique and Japan have committed to collaborate on resuming the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the north of the African nation halted in 2021 due to security concerns.

The Japanese firm Mitsui holds, through its subsidiary Mitsui E&P Mozambique Area 1, a 20% stake in a consortium led by French giant TotalEnergies that was developing the $20bn, 13mn tonnes per year (tpy) LNG project in the restive Cabo Delgado region. The partnership evacuated workers in April 2021 following an attack nearby by Islamist insurgents.

Mozambican foreign minister Veronica Macamo and her Japanese counterpart, Yoko Kamikawa, reaffirmed their respective nations’ commitment to resuming the project following a meeting in Tokyo, Argus reported on November 28.

Japan's state-controlled energy agency Jogmec has been assisting Mitsui on the project since 2008 by taking a 49.9% stake in Mitsui E&P Mozambique Area 1. TotalEnergies is the operator with a 26.5% interest, while other stakeholders are Mozambique's ENH (15%), Thailand's state-controlled PTTEP (8.5%) and Indian state-controlled firms ONGC, Oil India and Bharat Petroleum (10% each).

TotalEnergies is targeting to restart construction by the end of 2023, with commercial operations beginning in 2028, Argus wrote.

Kamikawa stated Japan’s commitment to continue importing LNG despite its net zero ambitions by 2050.

She urged Mozambique to promote security in Cabo Delgado where Islamists have been fighting government forces since 2017. Aid agencies estimate that 4,400 people have died in the conflict, which, at its height around 2021, displaced 1mn civilians.

“Referring to the importance of the liquefied natural gas development project in Cabo Delgado Province, which has been suspended due to the terrorism, Minister Kamikawa requested further efforts by Mozambique to improve and maintain security in the region,” Portuguese news agency Lusa cited a note released by the Japanese foreign ministry as saying.

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