Fitch Solutions: Mozambique to boost natural gas production and exports

Mozambique is set to become one of Sub-Saharan Africa's leading natural gas exporters, boosting its production in the region from 80.5 billion cubic meters to 135.2 this year, according to a report by consulting firm Fitch Solutions.

Quoted by News to the Minutethe consulting firm advanced that the gas sector, namely ?the expansion of liquefied natural gas export capacity?, will receive most of the foreign investment in the coming years.

The consultant's report highlights Mozambique, Nigeria, Mauritania and Senegal as the big drivers of the rise in natural gas production and exports.

The mention of Mozambique is due to expectations with the start-up of Eni's FLNG Coral project - the first of three ? in the second half of this year.

Analysts warn that the insecurity situation in the north of the country continues to pose a major risk to the return of TotalEnergies' operations and ExxonMobil's Final Investment Decision.

The sub-Saharan African region is "well positioned to benefit from increased demand for its gas," they stress, recalling the consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the willingness of Europeans to diversify sources of gas purchases by seeking to move away from Russian gas.

In this context, Nigeria will be key, as it will account for almost half of the region's domestic gas demand, which needs more infrastructure to boost demand from its locals, something policymakers have already realized and are trying to address, Fitch Solutions notes.

"Natural gas infrastructure expansion is crucial to boost demand in the region; some markets in the region are slowly making progress in this regard," they say, pointing to the example of Mozambique, which plans to build a "gas import terminal in the south [Matola LNG] starting early this year that would give the country a reliable source of gas supply to ensure growing demand."

In the note, the analysts conclude that "although there are substantial upfront costs in the construction phase, expanding liquefied natural gas import infrastructure is essential to unlock natural gas demand in the region" and boost exports.

Mozambique has three development projects approved to exploit the natural gas reserves in the Rovuma basin, ranked among the largest in the world, off the coast of Cabo Delgado.

Two of these projects are larger and envisage piping the gas from the seabed to land, cooling it in a plant to export it by sea in a liquid state.

One is led by TotalEnergies (the Area 1 consortium) and work progressed until it was suspended indefinitely following an armed attack on Palma in March 2021, at which point the French energy company stated that it would not resume work until the area was safe.

The other is the still unannounced investment led by ExxonMobil and Eni (Area 4 consortium).

A third completed and smaller project also belongs to the Area 4 consortium and consists of a floating platform to capture and process gas for export, directly at sea, which started up in November 2022.

The floating platform is expected to produce 3.4 mtpa (million tons per year) of liquefied natural gas, Area 1 points to 13.12 mtpa, and Area 4's onshore plan calls for 15 mtpa.

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