Saipem has agreed to restart a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique for TotalEnergies in July, the Italian energy services group's chief executive said Tuesday.
The project, which would be the first development of an LNG plant in the African country, has been frozen in 2021 due to safety concerns. The contract is worth €3.5 billion ($3.72 billion) to the Italian group.
"We plan to restart the project progressively, according to the information received by our customers, from July this year," Saipem CEO Alessandro Puliti said during a call on the group's 2022 results.
Puliti said that Saipem had no direct information on the human rights and security situation in the province of Cabo Delgato where the project will be located.
Earlier this month, TotalEnergies commissioned Jean-Christophe Rufin, an expert in humanitarian action and human rights, to carry out an independent mission to assess the humanitarian situation in the province before taking a decision on restarting operations.
"We have no direct visibility on the human rights report, but we have agreed with Total to restart in July (...) this implies that our client is confident of resolving the potential outstanding issues by that date," said Puliti.
On Tuesday, Total told Reuters it would wait for a human rights assessment commissioned by Rufin before announcing any restart of the project.
The French company added that it did not yet have a date for receiving the report, after an initial estimate at the end of February.
Lorette Philippot, an activist with Friends of the Earth France, said it was not possible for the negative consequences of the project for the climate and people to be resolved by the summer.
"The situation on the ground is critical: the gas industry has been at the heart of the brutal conflict that has created 1 million internal refugees," Philippot said.