TotalEnergies aims to restart $20 billion Mozambique LNG project in 2022

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MAPUTO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne said on Monday the French firm aimed to restart a $20 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the north of Mozambique that was halted by an insurgent group with links to Islamic State almost a year ago.

The attack on the town of Palma, on the doorstep of the project and home to many gas workers, prompted TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) to withdraw all staff and declare force majeure, putting a halt to all works until security was restored.

"When I will see that life is back to normality, which means having some state services and population, then the project can restart," Pouyanne said on a visit to Mozambique on Monday.

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"My objective is that we will restart in 2022."

TotalEnergies had intended for the project to produce its first cargo in 2024. read more

"A lot of progress has been done and frankly in a very short period of time," Pouyanne told reporters, after signing a deal to train 2,500 young Mozambicans in a way that will help them contribute to the project, such as growing vegetables which they can then sell to feed workers on the project.

However more steps needed to be taken to ensure these achievements were sustainable, he said, adding that this also included a return to normality in towns that were left largely abandoned, without any public services.

Pouyanne said he would like to visit these towns, including Palma and Mocimboa da Praia to its south, on his next visit.

The March 2021 attack prompted Mozambique to accept foreign troops from Rwanda and a bloc of southern African nations to help quell the insurgency, which had escalated across the southern African country's northernmost province of Cabo Delgado.

While these measures have helped Mozambique regain lost ground, clashes with insurgents and smaller attacks continue.

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Reporting by Manuel Mucari in Maputo; Writing by Emma Rumney in Johannesburg; Editing by Alexander Smith

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