China is one of the main future markets for Mozambique’s natural gas and its state oil companies are taking stakes in the consortiums responsible for its export.
After Sinopec took a 20 percent stake in a concession in the Rovuma basin, now the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is the main party interested in buying a portion of the same concession, operated by Italian group ENI, according to the Africa Monitor newsletter.
The CNOOC is negotiating the acquisition of a 15 percent of the 50 percent ENI owns in one of the main concessions in the Rovuma basin for natural gas exploration, in competition with Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Shell and Total.
According to Africa Monitor, the CNOOC has the advantage as it also provides a market, making the future acquisition of natural gas by China easier.
ENI originally had a 70 percent stake in the concession and Galp Energia, Korea Gas and Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos shared the remainder with 10 percent each.
The Italian group later sold 20 percent to China’s Sinopec as a way of raising funds to invest in the project and increasing China’s interest in natural gas production in the area.
After selling another portion of its stake it will keep a total of 35 percent. ENI’s chairman Paolo Scaroni informed the Mozambican authorities of the sale during a recent visit to Maputo, the newsletter said.
According to Mozambican natural resources minister, Esperança Bias, exploration of the natural gas discovered in the Rovuma basin, in northern Mozambique, may bring in annual revenues of over a US$10 billion.
At the end of last year the minister said that so far over 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas had been found in Area 4 and over 95 trillion cubic feet in Area 1.
The four natural gas processing units that are planned for the area will have a combined capacity of 20 million tons per year, which will also allow for additional gas liquefaction units to be set up as well as other industries that use natural gas.
US oil company Anadarko Petroleum is the operator of the Area 1 block in the Rovuma basin. The operators of both blocks have been working to find buyers for the gas that is due to be liquefied starting in 2018, Africa Monitor said.
As the US market has become practically self-sufficient by using shale gas, Asia is now considered to be the only market that will allow for a profit to be made on investments made in Mozambique, in direct competition with Qatar and Russia.
On a recent visit to Maputo, the chairman of Anadarko, Al Walker, told the Mozambican authorities that buyers – all of them Asian – had been secured for two thirds of production at the liquefaction unit that is under construction and that the remaining third would also be sold to Asia.
As well as China, companies from India, Japan, Thailand and South Korea have also acquired stakes in the international consortiums set up for gas production in Mozambique.