Italian Eni maintains gas exploration project in Cabo Delgado

Italian company plans to start operating the natural gas exploration unit on the Afungi peninsula in 2022. Project consists of underwater wells and floating installation with production of 3.4 million tons.

Italian energy company Eni said Monday (21.06) that its insurgency-hit offshore gas project in northern Mozambique is on track to start operating in 2022, despite the conflict in Cabo Delgado.

There have been doubts about the viability of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exploration sites off the Afungi peninsula since militants attacked the coastal town of Palma in March.

The attack on an operational center led French oil giant Total to suspend work on a $20 billion project - the largest single investment in Africa - declaring reasons of "force majeure" and evacuating all personnel.

Eni, which launched its own LNG project in the area in 2016, said, however, that the insurgency would not affect operations. "The start-up of the Coral South project is confirmed in 2022, as planned," an Eni spokesman told the France Press news agency (AFP), without giving further details.

The fate of the gas

The project consists of six subsea wells connected to a floating LNG facility with a production capacity of 3.4 million tons, according to Eni's website. All the gas produced at the site is to be sold to British Petroleum.

Mozambique has pinned high hopes on the vast natural gas reserves discovered in the Cabo Delgado province in recent years, attracting large international companies. American giant Exxon Mobil has also invested in the gas projects, which are estimated to cost $60 billion in total.

But a spiraling insurgency staged by militants linked to the Islamic State has raised growing security concerns since it first emerged in 2017. The March 24 attack on Palma hit just 10 kilometers from the center of Total's project, despite repeated government promises to protect the area.

The company had already evacuated some workers and suspended construction in January following a series of jihadist attacks nearby. It has not yet indicated when it might resume operations.

Mozambique expected to reap almost $100 billion from the gas fields over the next 25 years.

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