Total oil has suspended its gas exploration operations in the region. As a result, the French multinational laid off 56,000 workers and terminated contracts with suppliers, affecting hundreds of companies, a blow to the fragile Mozambican economy that has already led the local business community to express concern.

Is the suspension of activities in nuances of threat to the Mozambican Government? African affairs specialist Fernando Cardoso has no doubts: “Of course there is. With new research technologies, new gas deposits may be discovered. The mapping and discovery of new gas reserves has not yet ended and nothing guarantees us. that there are no other gas deposits that are in more economical conditions and more secure for investors, despite the fact that Total has already spent a lot of money “, he explains.

Simultaneously with the temporary withdrawal of Total from Cabo Delgado, gas exploration projects in Tanzania and oil in Uganda are gaining new momentum – involving Total. Another sign that consolidates the suspicions that the French multinational may even abandon Cabo Delgado if Maputo does not guarantee security.

The withdrawal of the oil company is underestimated by Maputo, which seems to be confident of its return. “The Mozambican Government has changed its opinion, at this moment it accepts the participation of foreign forces”, believes Fernando Cardoso. The Mozambican Prime Minister, Carlos Agostinho do Ros├írio, stressed in the plenary that international cooperation has been strengthened, namely with SADC, in “different domains”, including the military, reserving the treatment of these “sensitive matters” to Defense and Security Forces.

Total’s move would not be the only problem for the Mozambican government. Qatar is said to be one of those who would be interested in making gas exploration in Cabo Delgado unfeasible. According to the NGO Center for Democracy and Development, Qatar, which has the largest project of LNG in the world, valued at 28.75 billion dollars, could want to control the market, suffocating emerging countries like Mozambique. With suspicions that Qatar could then be promoting terrorism in Cabo Delgado “we have entered into speculation”, says Fernando Cardoso. But he cautions: “I think it is safe to say that if I owned the gas wells in Qatar I would be satisfied. Which does not mean that my satisfaction translates into something concrete with regard, for example, to hidden support or not of instability, therefore, this remains to be proven”.

Johan Viljoen, Reabetswe Tloubatla, Fr Godlove Bong-Aba Ngenge

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