Maputo — Total will restart construction at its $20 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) development in Mozambique after the government increased security, the French energy firm said on Wednesday.
In January, Total withdrew most of its workforce from the site in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, where there has been an insurgency, now linked to Islamic State, since 2017, after an attack nearby.
The company asked the government for additional security measures, including a 25 kilometre secure buffer zone around the site.
It said on Wednesday this had now been implemented, allowing for the “gradual remobilisation” of the project’s workforce and a resumption of construction work.
“The government of Mozambique has declared the area within a 25 km perimeter surrounding the Mozambique LNG project as a special security area,” Total said in a statement.
It added that other measures including the reinforcement of security infrastructure and strengthening of Mozambique’s security forces had also been implemented.
Total said control of the 25 km zone remains ensured exclusively by Mozambique’s public security forces, and that the government had committed that the personnel assigned to protect the project would act in line with international human rights standards.
Amnesty International this month accused both government forces and insurgents of committing war crimes in the province, where insurgents have stepped up their attacks over the last year.
In 2020 the group began regularly taking over entire towns.
The conflict has killed more than 2,500 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a consultancy that tracks political violence.
Some 700,000 more have been forced from their homes, according to estimates by the United Nations.
(Reporting by Manuel Mucari; writing by Emma Rumney; editing by Jason Neely)