Mozambique Insurgents Attack in Total’s LNG Concession Area

Mozambique’s security forces fought off an attack by suspected Islamists within the area of Total SE’s $20 billion liquefied natural gas concession, according to three people familiar with the incident, dramatically raising risks for Africa’s biggest private investment project.

Fighters from a group aligned with Islamic State late Friday attacked the village of Quitunda, where Total is relocating communities from other parts of the concession as it builds export facilities and other infrastructure, the people said.

Government forces repelled the attack that lasted into early Saturday. It’s the first time the insurgents attacked within the concession area, known by its Portuguese acronym of Duat.

It’s the latest violence in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, where attacks over the past three years have claimed about 2,500 lives and forced 570,000 people from their homes. In the past week, the fighting has rapidly advanced on Total’s LNG project, prompting the company to evacuate some workers by air from the remote site.

Total didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions sent outside normal business hours Saturday.

The fighting in Quitunda is the closest yet to Total’s construction camp. The village is less than one kilometer (0.62 mile) from the airstrip the company built within the camp’s perimeter fence.

The attacks in recent days are surprising because the Afungi peninsula, home to the LNG projects, has a large concentration of government forces and was thought to be secure, according to Jasmine Opperman, Africa analyst at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

While the fighting exposes the projects’ vulnerability, Total won’t abandon it, she said. “There might be a bit of a pause, a slowdown,” Opperman said Sunday. “A withdrawal, not likely. There is simply too much at stake for them.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.