Total’s LNG project crucial for Mozambique

Mozambique’s ability to keep servicing its rising debt pile depends on the resumption of TotalEnergies US$20 billion liquefied natural gas project, according to S&P Global Ratings.

The project, once touted as Africa’s biggest private investment, stalled in 2021 following terror attacks by Islamic State-linked rebels in Mozambique’s northeast. Progress in containing the violence has led to speculation that work may resume in the coming months, but TotalEnergies has yet to make a decision.

Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive officer at the French oil and gas major, said in February he’s in no hurry to resume. Yet Mozambique faces growing debt payments that might be difficult to meet without revenue it had been banking on from the project.

Yearly coupon payments on the nation’s sole US$900 million eurobond jump to 9 percent from 5 percent next year.

“It’s really critical for these gas projects to come online and for them to be able to generate the revenue,” Leon Bezuidenhout, sovereign analyst at S&P, said in an interview last week. “Even now there’s still pretty high debt-servicing costs before the ramp up in these eurobond payments.”

Foreign troops from Rwanda and a separate deployment from the Southern African Development Community have helped improve the security situation in Cabo Delgado province, where the Mozambique LNG project is located.

Still, frequent raids by mostly small groups of insurgents have continued as they’re able to evade authorities in densely forested areas. At least 4,668 people have died since the violence started in 2017, according to Cabo Ligado, a website that monitors the war.- Bloomberg


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