Paris - French energy group Total on Monday declared force majeure on its $20 billion Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in Mozambique and withdrew all personnel from the site because of the precarious security situation in the area. Dozens of civilians were killed in a March 24 attack by insurgents on the coastal Mozambique town of Palma, near natural gas projects that are worth $60 billion and meant to transform Mozambique's economy. "Considering the evolution of the security situation in the north of the Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique, Total confirms the withdrawal of all Mozambique LNG project personnel from the Afungi site. This situation leads Total, as operator of Mozambique LNG project, to declare force majeure," the company said. Total suspended work on the project, which is due to produce its first cargo in 2024, on March 27 after the militant attack. The force majeure implies a weightier suspension and allows Total to cancel contractors. Force majeure was "the only way to best protect the project interest until work can resume," a Total spokeswoman added Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi this month said that the government will work to restore peace in the country after last month's militant attack near the multibillion-dollar gas projects backed by global oil companies.
The Mozambique government is due to hold a news conference on the situation on Monday morning. The LNG project includes development of the Golfinho and Atum natural gas fields in the Offshore Area 1 concession and the construction of a two-train liquefaction plant with capacity of 13.12 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). Total is operator of the Mozambique LNG project and obtained a $14.9 billion debt financing package in July to fund its rollout.