RONAN BESCOND

Mozambique 2020 | ENERGY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ronan Bescond, Mozambique Vice President and Country Chair of Total, on financing for LNG projects, the Cabo Delgado region, and the country's strategic location.

Securing financing for the Mozambique LNG project during the COVID-19 crisis is a phenomenal achievement. What does this milestone mean for Total and Mozambique?

It is really heartening to see that in these turbulent times the market continues to have such confidence in the project and in Total as an operator. A 5,500 strong Mozambican workforce has already delivered a lot of projects, including the airstrip, the highway between Palma and Afungi, and a number of other projects essential for the construction of the LNG facility itself. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 we remain on track to deliver first LNG cargoes in 2024.

What impact will this mass project have on the Cabo Delgado region?

It is clear that the project will bring real and meaningful gains to Mozambique. These gains will last well beyond the lifetime of our Train I and II projects for the Golfinho-Atum line. Apart from injecting significant revenues into the public coffers, the project will help upskill workers and develop a professional workforce. Moreover, the project will play a vital role in the growth of companies working on the project. It will also serve as a catalyst for other industrial developments in the country. Considering the size of the resources at stake, it will effectively create a pipeline of opportunities for the Mozambican workforce as well as for local businesses. Notably, we have laid the foundations of the training center in Afungi, and have also started providing training using existing facilities in Pemba as well as online capabilities. During the operations phase, we expect to employ 1,500 Mozambicans. Total and its partners are working on a dedicated training center to support the operation phase, which will require a skilled workforce. In terms of improving access to local businesses, we have two areas of focus: ensuring transparency and publishing information about the call for tender and employment opportunities. We also have various capacity building programs at all levels. We believe it is important for local companies to access funding at an attractive cost, which is why are engaging with banks and multilateral agencies. We are on track and there is clearly a catalyst role for the Mozambican LNG project to play in Mozambique. To date, we have invested USD699 million, proving that we are here to deliver in partnership with local businesses. We have a strong engagement with INP on a monthly basis to show the progress we are doing with regard to local content matters.

What are your final thoughts on the current situation in Mozambique?

Total is the world's second-largest global LNG player and we have been present throughout the African continent for many years. Our entry into Mozambique and the Rovuma Basin is a very strategic play for us because Mozambique's geographic location will allow us to serve all the emerging LNG markets in the world. Investing in LNG is one of Total's major focuses because it generates low carbon emissions. The world is shifting away from coal and embracing LNG, which will experience strong growth over the next 20 years. A quick look at Total's portfolio reflects this switch. In 2004, our hydrocarbon portfolio was 34% of gas and 66% oil, and today it is 53% gas and 47% oil. This trend will continue as consumers around the world become more mindful of the type of fuel they use and the way they harm the environment. At Total we have the challenge of climate change integrated within our own corporate strategy and we are aware of our responsibility to the planet. There is no doubt that the LNG project in Mozambique is a significant piece of this ambition. We are convinced that this project will bring real and meaningful gains to Mozambique and to the province of Cabo Delgado. We are talking about the kind of gains that will outlive the Golfinho-Atum project, both in the shape of revenues, knowledge transfer, and growth of local businesses.