Oil majors want more Mozambican troops


Exxon Mobil and Total asked Mozambique to send more troops to guard operations in the far north after attacks by Islamist militants, an industry source and two security consultants said.

Mozambique’s northern province Cabo Delgado is home to one of the world’s biggest gas finds in the past decade. Both oil majors are working on massive LNG projects that could transform the economy.

The area is the centre of an Islamist insurgency that killed hundreds since 2017. Fighters destroy villages, clash with soldiers and behead captives.
The sources said the companies were negotiating with government to increase the number of soldiers guarding their operations.

One security consultant said there were 500 troops in the region and the companies wanted another 300. An industry source with knowledge of the situation and another security consultant said more security was requested, but did not provide numbers.

Exxon said it did not comment on discussions with government and referred Reuters to Mozambique’s Ministry of National Defence.

Mozambique’s government communications department did not respond to an emailed request for comment outside usual business hours and calls to the department and ministry of defence went unanswered.

Total declined to comment on an increase in troops, but said the safety of employees was paramount.

“We monitor conditions closely and work with the relevant authorities and stakeholders to provide a safe and secure working environment for our workforce and local communities,” it said in a statement.

The militants called themselves Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama when they started attacks in 2017. More recently, Islamic State claimed responsibility via its media outlets. There has been no independent confirmation of a link.

The fighters – who tout their brand of Islam as an antidote to what they describe as a corrupt ruling elite – are stepping up operations in Cabo Delgado, analysts say.

There are concerns they might move south after an assault in Quissanga distict last week.

A security consultant said the oil and gas companies were no longer satisfied with security provided and were requesting more in response to a changing threat.