Militants Occupy Mozambican Town Near Planned LNG Projects

(Bloomberg) --

Unidentified militants overran a Mozambican town close to an area in which companies including Total SA and Exxon Mobil Corp. are developing liquefied natural gas projects worth almost $60 billion.

The assault began early Monday morning in Mocimboa da Praia, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of where the LNG developments are located in Cabo Delgado province, police spokesman Orlando Mudumane said in comments broadcast on state television.

“They occupied the city, which is currently under fire,” Mudumane said Monday morning. “The defense and security forces are currently fighting to restore order.”

Mocimboa da Praia is the district headquarters and was where Islamist militants attacked in October 2017 at the start of an insurgency that has left more than 800 people dead. Islamic State has claimed some of the attacks since June, but no group has declared responsibility for Monday’s raid yet.

The attack could be the most significant yet and will further heighten concerns regarding the LNG projects, Ryan Cummings, Cape Town-based director at Signal Risk, said in a post on Twitter.

The oil-price crash and coronavirus outbreak had already raised questions about the future of Total’s and Exxon’s plans in the southeast African country.

Total said it was aware of the attack and that its site near the coastal town was secure with all staff accounted for. “We continue to monitor conditions closely,” the company said in an emailed response to questions. Total is working with authorities for a secure environment for workers and local communities, it said.

“We continue to monitor security developments in the Cabo Delgado region and work closely with the government regarding appropriate safeguards to protect people, operations and facilities,” Exxon spokesman Todd Spitler said by email. “The safety and security of our employees, contractors and the people who work and live around our operations is a top priority.”

Mozambique is banking on the projects to make it one of the world’s biggest LNG exporters, and to transform of the economy of one of the world’s poorest nations.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.