Mozambique’s Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)— accelerated tempo & revived optimism.

In 2009 Mozambique was touted as the next Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) success story on the back of having one of Africa’s largest LNG reserves, alongside Nigeria and Algeria. Since then, the country has faced a myriad of difficulties; from hidden debt scandals, domestic armed conflict, increased security concerns over potential insurgents and catastrophic cyclones. All of which have cast a shadow on the viability and timing of the LNG projects. Fast forward to 2019, and Mozambique has begun showing signs that its LNG potential has finally begun to materialise with accelerated tempo and a sense of revived optimism.

Mozambique has officially proven gas reserves of 2.83 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) placing Mozambique firmly as having the world’s 14th largest proven reserves (according to the US Energy Information Agency data). The gas finds have attracted three major LNG projects—two onshore and one offshore—with a total capacity of more than 30 million metric tonnes/year (MTPA) and US$50 billion in capex development, and commissioning expected between 2022 and 2025.

Two major consortiums of international oil companies (IOCs)—each led by America’s Anadarko and Italy’s Eni—are at the forefront of the gas exploration projects in Mozambique. Anadarko made several natural gas discoveries in Area 1 (Prosperidade and Golfinho/Atum complexes) and Eni’s natural gas discoveries are in Area 4 (Mamba complex and the Coral site).

As LNG exports increase, Mozambique is expected to monetise much more of its natural resource endowment and move into the mainstream of natural gas-producing countries.

Ongoing Projects

The Prosperidade and Mamba Complexes straddle the boundaries of Areas 1 and 4. A unitisation agreement (joint development of reserves that are under separate licenses) was reached in December 2015, which stipulated that Anadarko and Eni both independently commercialise 12 Tcf of natural gas in the overlapping area and jointly develop the remainder of the resources. However, both companies have prioritised developing independent projects using natural gas resources on their respective acreage. The respective projects and their stages of development are outlined below.

Located more than 1,500 metres underwater and 40 kilometres off the northern coast of Mozambique, the first project, offshore Coral South Floating Liquified Natural Gas (FLNG), covers the Mamba South and North 1 discovery in Offshore Area 4. This project is a joint venture led by Eni (25%), in conjunction with its Area 4 partners ExxonMobil (25%) China National Petroleum Company (20%) Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos E.P. (10%), Kogas (10%) and Galp Energia (10%).

The second project, Mozambique Rovuma Venture S.p.A (MRV) operates in the Offshore Area 4 and is led by the same consortium as the Coral South Floating project.

The third and last project, Anadarko Moçambique Área 1, Lda, covers Rovuma Offshore Area 1. This project is led by a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation which operates Offshore Area 1 with a 26.5% working interest. Co-venturers include ENH Rovuma Área Um, S.A. (15%), Mitsui E&P Mozambique Area1 Ltd. (20%), ONGC Videsh Ltd. (10%), Beas Rovuma Energy Mozambique Limited (10%), BPRL Ventures Mozambique B.V. (10%), and PTTEP Mozambique Area 1 Limited (8.5%).

Progress Update

Coral South FLNG is the most advanced LNG project in Mozambique and is currently under construction in the offshore Area 4 Rovuma basin of Mozambique. Once completed, Coral South FLNG will be one of the first deepwater gas field developments in Africa and the third such development in the world with an expected annual capacity of 3.4MTPA of LNG per year. Gas production is expected to start in 2022.

Development capex cost was estimated at US$7 billion and about 60% of the capex cost was financed using debt. Debt facilities will be used to cover the initial construction period and are expected to be paid back in 15 years. In 2017, the Area 4 consortium signed a US$5 billion project financing package with a syndicate of international financial institutions and leading export credit agencies.

Credit agencies which provided covered loans to the consortium include the BPI Export Credit Agency, KEXIM Export Credit Agency, Ksure Export Credit Agency, Sace Export Credit Agency, and the Sinosure Export Credit Agency. Additionally, the consortium received direct loans from Commercial Bank and KEXIM. Over the next 20 years, 100% of the LNG produced will be sold to BP.

Anadarko-led Area 1 reached Final Investment Decision (FID) status in 2019 after the consortium was satisfied with the project viability, allowing the project to proceed. Area 1 will also be responsible for constructing the support facilities to be shared between Area 1 and Area 4 projects, which will include the Materials Offloading Facility and the LNG Marine Terminal. The expectation is for construction of the facility to begin soon with “first gas” expected in Q4 2023.

With a sanctioned US$20 billion capex cost, this will be the first onshore LNG facility in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province, consisting of two initial LNG trains with a total nameplate capacity of 12.88 MTPA to support the development of the Golfinho/Atum field located entirely within Offshore Area 1.

The Golfinho/Atum Project will supply initial volumes of approximately 100 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (MMcf/d) with 50 MMcf/d per train allocated for domestic use in Mozambique.

The project has successfully secured an aggregate 11.1 MTPA of long-term LNG sales (representing 86% of the plant's nameplate capacity) with key LNG buyers in Asia and in Europe such as CNOOC (China’s largest LNG importer, for a term of 13 years, 1.5MTPA), Tokyo Gas & Centrica (combined 2.6 MTPA, from start-up of production until 2040), Shell International Trading Middle East Ltd (2 MTPA for a term of 13 years), Japan’s Tohoku Electric Power company (0.28 MTPA for 15 years), and French Électricité de France, S.A., (EDF) (1.2 MTPA for a term of 15 years).

The MRV project, will produce, liquefy and market natural gas from three reservoirs of the Mamba complex located in the Area 4 block in the Rovuma basin. Two of the reservoirs straddle the boundary with neighbouring Area 1. The project is intended to have a production capacity of 15.2MTPA and includes the world’s first “Mega-Trains’’ outside the State of Qatar. ExxonMobil will lead construction and operation of natural gas liquefaction and related facilities on behalf of MRV, while Eni will lead construction and operation efforts.

The Mozambique government approved its development plan for the Rovuma LNG project with final FID expected later in 2019. Furthermore, construction is assumed to start in 2019 until 2025 and extraction from 2024 to 2049.

Impact Assessment—Sectors poised to benefit from LNG production in Mozambique

MRV, the consortium responsible for exploring Area 4, released details on the project’s expected impact to the fiscus and GDP. The project is expected to add US$4.3-US$5 billion p.a. in fiscal proceeds. Its contributions to GDP, are envisaged to annually increase by US$15.4-US$18.5 billion.

The overarching policy framework determining the direct financial benefits of the LNG projects in Mozambique are:

· Royalty rates which are fixed at 2% and 3% of gross revenues for natural gas and condensate respectively (for production below 500m depth).

· R-factor (a cost recovery parameter that determines the distribution of the profit petroleum between the government and the concessionaries) of between 10% and 15%.

· Corporate income tax—24% for the first 8 years, 32% (or standard corporate tax rate) thereafter.

Broad-based economic benefits: Ideally projects of this magnitude should result in a windfall for the whole economy. Recognising this, the Mozambican government has introduced a plan to ensure that the monetisation of gas discoveries directly benefit the local economy.

Mozambique's Gas Master Plan (MGMP) has identified potential domestic industries besides LNG and power generation that also stand to benefit from developments in the sector. One such example is that of major planned industrial projects (such as fertiliser plants—Norway’s Yara International was granted an allocation of 80-90 thousand cubic feet per day (MCF/d) of gas to produce 1.2-1.3million tonnes/yr of fertilisers) that would take advantage of gas as feedstock.

Beyond MGMP, the Mozambique government has agreed that the various LNG projects will allocate a portion of their production output towards domestic consumption. Domestic gas (Domgas) and Small-Scale LNG (SSLNG) companies are positioned to expand their local marketing and distribution activities. The heightened security concerns driven by reported attacks in the LNG region will result in a need for safety and security equipment and services. Linked to this is the need for maritime transportation and security equipment and services. The large workforce needed for construction and operation of the LNG facilities will rely on car rental firms to provide transportation services.

The construction of these LNG facilities will be undertaken by local and international construction and related companies. Underpinning this sector will be local drivers such as: (1) the absence of infrastructure, namely a lack of roads, adequate power, ports, amenities for the workforce and (2) the government’s own reinvestment in infrastructure and low-cost housing. Additionally, there are other LNG connected infrastructure projects such as oil and gas terminal expansion in the Port of Pemba, and the urbanisation of the district of Palma, where the Area 1 and 4 natural gas business activities will be concentrated. Lastly, Kogas and ENH are in partnership to operate a gas distribution network to provide households and industry with piped gas in the south of Mozambique.

Potential challenges

As the Mozambique LNG story begins to materialise there are potential difficulties on the horizon which need to be considered.

· The Mozambique government is faced with the consequences of hidden debt scandal (Ematum SA—state-run tuna-fishing company—Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) and ProIndicus scandal dubbed the “Tuna Bonds”). Chief concern being, whether the current government handling these multibillion-dollar LNG projects is the same government which miss-handled the “Tuna Bonds”. Media sources report that the then President Armando Guebuza and Finance Minister Manuel Changue are believed to have been the principal government heads at the centre of the scandal. Both are no longer in power and legal steps are being taken over the matter. Additionally, the scandal brought increased scrutiny and suspension of international aid and financing in Mozambique. Since the scandal emerged, government approvals related to sovereign debt have become more rigorous, requiring additional endorsements from lawmakers and the attorney general. This has left the LNG projects as the only avenue left for the Frelimo-led Mozambique government to repay the bonds, stabilise the currency and resume much needed projects. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe the government has vested interests in seeing these projects succeed sooner rather than later.

· Possible policy reversal, if there is a change of government. The potential for this is very real, given what has been observed elsewhere on the continent (Ghana for instance). We draw comfort from the current incumbent, President of Mozambique and leader of the Frelimo party, Filipe Nyusi, having overseen the various policies and government bodies put in place to guide the LNG story from a legal framework perspective. President Nyusi will run again in the October 2019 general elections and given the record number of party affiliated registrations, Frelimo remains a favourite to win; therefore, guaranteeing policy continuity beyond the “first gas” phase of the various projects.

· Concerns regarding the capacity of the state-owned oil company, ENH, to meet its project equity obligations. This is against the backdrop of redirected government spending following the recent cyclone disasters. Comfort is drawn from International donors who have pledged over US$1.2 billion in aid, reducing the reconstruction burden on the domestic budget. Total financing commitment from ENH is US$7.5 billion and whilst US$1 billion has already been spent by partners on behalf of ENH, this risk of a funding shortfall affects the lenders’ ability to raise the US$30 billion project financing. ENH has chosen an advisory firm to advise on raising the required finance and the Mozambican government has approved a guarantee for ENH which now awaits additional endorsements from lawmakers and the attorney general.

Closing remarks

10 years on and Mozambique continues to make significant strides towards strengthening its position as a key LNG player on the global stage. Despite recent macro-economic and political challenges, the rapid pace with which Mozambique has been able to capitalise on its natural resources points towards a very positive macroeconomic outlook going forward. With one LNG project that has already broken ground, a second project which has reached FID status and a third project in the initial stages of approval, Mozambique is well positioned to become a major player in the global LNG industry.






5. U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics, accessed 17 Jan. 2019.