Terror Threat to Mozambican Gas Plans

Suspected Islamic militants carried out two attacks on assets of the Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in Mozambique on February 21, killing one and injuring six. This represents the first coordinated attack by the militants, who operate in the northernmost Cabo Delgado province, against the $ 50 billion worth of natural gas investments planned in that area.

Anadarko has 75 million trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves in the offshore Rovuma gasfield. About a third of the company is owned by Bharat Petroleum, Oil India and ONGC. 

This month Anadarko agreed to sell one million metric tonnes of LNG per year for 15 years to Bharat Petroleum. The contract would take Anadarko over the demand threshold it had said would commit it to expanding its Mozambique LNG terminal to nearly 13 million tonnes capacity.
The shadowy militant group has become an additional complication for Mozambique’s plans to become a major LNG exporter. While locally called “Al Shabaab” – after the Al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia – this terror group has issued no statements and its motives, ideology and even if it has a name are unknown.

The members seem to be from a radical sect which split off from a conservative Islamic group Ansaru Sunna that was, in turn, a member of the official Islamic Council. The council, worried about the sects violent attempts to force Sharia on villagers, urged the Mozambican government to act against them. The group fled into the bush, but emerged to carry out its first terrorist attack in October 2017. It has now carried out a steady stream of attacks along a coastal strip running from Pemba to the Tanzanian border. The Anadarko attack was unusual in its sophistication and may indicate the sect has tied up with Tanzanian Islamicist militants who shifted across the border after Dar es Salaam began moving against them in early 2017, a belief held by US intelligence agencies. 




February 28, 2019

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About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhury

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta Aspen Centre

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.