Total shuts operations, withdraws all staff

Source: Total shuts operations, withdraws all staff | Herald Africa

MAPUTO. – French energy giant Total has shut its operations and withdrawn all staff from a site in northern Mozambique following last week’s deadly jihadist attack in the area, security sources said on Friday.

“Total has gone,” a security source in Maputo said, adding that “it will be hard to persuade them to return” this year.

And a military source added, “all the facilities are abandoned.

“Total made a decision to evacuate all of its staff”, after drone surveillance showed insurgents were in areas “very close” to the gas plant in Afungi.

Total and its partners planned to invest $20 billion in the project, the largest amount ever for a project in Africa. Another source confirmed the were reports that insurgents were not far from the site.

Afungi peninsula is only 10km from the town of Palma, which came under attack more than a week ago, resulting in the death of dozens of people, including at least two expatriate workers. 

The brazen assault on March 24 was the latest in a string of more than 830 organised raids by the Islamist militants over the past three years during which more than 2,600 people have died. 

Total had already evacuated some staff and suspended construction work in late December following a series of violent attacks near its compound.

But last week’s raid is seen as the biggest escalation of the Islamist insurgency ravaging Cabo Delgado province since 2017.

Many civilian survivors fled their homes flocking towards the heavily secured gas plant. An estimated 15 000 people have gathered near the site, while more are still arriving and “security is compromised”, said another source. – AFP.