Mozambique Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, owned by the French transnational company Total, is located in the Rovuma river basin, in the Cabo Delgado province, north of Mozambique, close to the border with Tanzania.
On April 26, the project announced the temporary withdrawal of all its personnel and the indefinite suspension of its activities.
According to JA! – Friends of the Earth Mozambique, the withdrawal of the transnational brings as a consequence the non-fulfilment of the obligations assumed in agreements, and the possibility of suspension or termination of contracts with suppliers of goods and/or services, many of them local. But the most serious issue is that the company does not mention what will happen to the agricultural communities that have already been displaced to build the Afungi LNG Park (construction on land of the LNG project that consists of an airstrip and workers camp), who have not yet received the promised lands for their relocation.
The declaration of “force majeure” by Total, according to its statement, is due to the insecurity of the region. Cabo Delgado has suffered for a few years the invasion of the transnational gas industry, the attacks by extremist groups and the military deployment of the Government. More than three years ago, the Al Shabab group from Mozambique, also called the Islamic State of Central Africa, settled in the area.
How does Cabo Delgado come to this situation?
The north of Mozambique is one of the least developed areas of the country, with very few hospitals and great challenges in the educational system. Almost 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture or fishing to subsist. The Government’s bid to turn Mozambique into one of the world’s liquefied natural gas giants resulted in the displacement of more than 500 families, just in the initial stage.
Transnationals arrived in Mozambique bringing with them human rights violations, land grabbing, loss of sovereignty, violence, fear, social injustice and Covid-19. In an interview with Real World Radio in May 2020, activist Daniel Ribeiro from JA! said that the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Cabo Delgado was from a worker at the Total construction site. Within two weeks, two-thirds of those infected with Covid-19 in Mozambique were employees of the French oil company.
Organisations against devastation
In June 2020, more than 200 organisations called for the cease of activities of the gas industries in Mozambique with ample arguments about the devastation they generate on a human, social and environmental level. At the country level, it is estimated that the Mozambique LNG project will increase greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent.
In April 2021, upon Total’s retirement announcement, JA! – Friends of the Earth Mozambique, with the support of Friends of the Earth France, Friends of the Earth International, Friends of the Earth United States and the African Women’s Alliance, demanded that the transnational gas companies cease operations and pay just reparations to those affected.
They also asked the government to stop the exploitation of gas and fossil fuels, deny further concessions and opt for a renewable energy path. They also demanded a focus on the socio-economic factors of violence and the addressing of the losses and oppressions experienced by this people, and asked for information on the lands and the dead, disappeared and displaced people.
Lastly, the organisations demanded that the Mozambican Government stop harassing, intimidating and threatening journalists and activists, that concrete measures be taken to punish those who do so, and that an investigation be carried out into the role of the military in the abuses against human rights.