Mozambique projects billions yearly gas earnings
MAPUTO – Mozambique could earn US$5,2 billion per year from natural gas by 2026 and the sector could create over 70 000 jobs, the minerals minister has said.
The Southern African nation’s 130 trillion cubic feet reserves of liquefied natural gas (LNG) could sustain the construction of 10 LNG plants over the next decade, and the gas could be exported to the Far East, according to the draft Natural Gas Master Plan which Minister Esperanca Bias presented to industry leaders and donors in Maputo last Thursday.
Current reserves are mostly in concessions of US-based Anadarko and Italy’s ENI, but are barely half of what might eventually be extracted, with at least 150 trillion cubic feet still to be discovered, the plan estimated.
The plan sketches out how authorities can harness gas that could by 2026 bring as much as US$5,2 billion per year into state coffers.
“It is a tool that will guide us as a government... enabling the elaboration of the use and development of natural gas resources so that the benefits can be maximised for Mozambique’s society,” said Bias.
The gas industry alone could generate over 70 000 jobs in the long term, mostly for professionals or technicians, the plan projected – although this would not solve the wider problem of unemployment for unskilled labour.
Clusters of mega-projects could be built across the vast country and use the gas to produce fertiliser, electricity and methanol.
One major dilemma is how to transport the gas from the extreme north thousands of kilometres down Africa’ second-longest coastline to the capital and economic hub.
“Our intention is that the use of the gas can be felt all over the country regardless of where it is extracted,” said Bias.
Mozambique lies at the southern tip of a fault line running along the east African coast to Somalia, forming a geologically inviting region for natural gas that has become the focus of an exploration boom in recent years.
The country remains one of the world’s poorest and relies heavily on aid 20 years after the end of a brutal civil war that brought the economy to its knees.
Authorities ponder a Norway-style sovereign wealth fund or a national development bank owned by the government to share the wealth.
Besides the off-shore gas reserves large deposits of coal-bed gas may also rest in Tete province in the northwest, where exploitation of one of the world’s largest untapped coal reserves started last year.