EU Aims to Boost Military Financing to Secure Mozambique Gas Projects

The European Union is planning a five-fold increase in financial support to an African military mission in Mozambique against Islamist attacks, as the bloc tries to secure gas projects in the African nation to reduce reliance on Russian imports. The energy shortage caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased the EU’s efforts to secure gas projects off Mozambique’s northern coast, where a number of Western oil majors plan to build a massive LNG terminal. The EU also aims to counter Russia’s and China’s influence in the country, three years after Russian private military firm Wagner withdrew its forces from the country following defeats by Islamist militants.

Since 2017, Mozambique has been battling with Islamic State linked militants in its gas rich province of Cabo Delgado, where the government and Western oil giants have been developing LNG projects worth billions of dollars. The militants’ spread has been contained since last year, after a southern African military mission was deployed and a separate intervention by troops from Rwanda.

Despite the containment, the EU says the situation remains fragile and smaller scale attacks have been continuing in various districts.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) recommends €15 million of funding for the mission of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a bloc of 16 African nations of which half a dozen sent troops to Mozambique. The mission is set to be extended for six or twelve months at an SADC summit in Kinshasa starting on Wednesday. The EEAS says a separate support for the Rwandan mission would also be proposed in the coming months.

The proposal needs the backing of the 27 EU governments, whose military experts are scheduled to hold a regular meeting on Aug. 25.

SADC also confirmed a request for EU support, but added that SADC member countries would continue to provide key financial support to the mission.

An international consortium led by French oil giant TotalEnergies plans to extract gas off north Mozambique’s shores and liquefy it at an LNG plant under construction, from where it would be exported to Europe and Asia.

Mozambique has the third largest proven gas reserves in Africa, after Nigeria and Algeria. The EU fears that without support for the military interventions, Mozambique may again lose control of its gas rich province.

The militants have recently increased their attacks.

Previously, the EU had pledged financial support for Mozambique’s army with an additional €45 million, and so far has made available The EU has already pledged to provide the country’s army with an additional 45 million euros ($45 million) of financial support, and has so far made available €2.9 million of funding to the SADC mission.

According to the EEAS proposal, the fresh EU support would be limited to “equipment not designed to deliver lethal force,” including radars, mine detectors, boats and medical supplies, despite SADC’s needs for lethal material.

Despite delays caused by militant activity, TotalEnergies still plans to begin production in 2024 from gas reserves estimated in trillions of cubic feet (tcf), more than the amount of gas the EU imports annually from Russia.

Meanwhile, Italian oil company ENI expects to begin shipments from a nearby offshore gas field this year, using a floating LNG terminal which can process only limited amounts of gas.

Other oil majors, including U.S. giant ExxonMobil are also operating in the region.

The funding is also meant to discourage local authorities from seeking help again from Russia, or from China.

The EU is also supporting the training of Mozambique military forces through its own defense mission in the country.

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