An attack on an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. convoy in Mozambique was one of multiple raids that took place Thursday in an area where companies plan to develop $50 billion of liquefied natural gas projects, according to two people familiar with the matter.
An Anadarko contractor was beheaded in the violence, the people said, asking not to be identified because they’re not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Anadarko confirmed one person died and at least six people were injured in the raids.
The violence could signal a major shift in tactics by suspected Islamist militants who’ve waged an insurgency in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province since October 2017. It could be the first significant coordinated attack by the Islamists, as well as the first time an oil and gas company has been targeted.
Anadarko said there were two related attacks on Thursday, with one contractor killed, according to a statement on its website. Both raids occurred on the road from the coastal town of Mocimboa da Praia to Anadarko’s project in Afungi about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north, it said. The company’s project-construction site has been placed on lockdown, the company said.
At least six separate assaults took place in the area between Palma and Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado, according to one of the people who asked not to be identified. The assailants targeted an Anadarko convoy and vehicles operated by contractors, as well as villages near the main highway, he said. Two other Anadarko contractors died in one of the incidents, he said.
The raids were carried out by suspected Islamists, the second person said.
The attacks demonstrate that “militants now possess the capacity to threaten LNG operations on the mainland,” said Nick Branson, senior Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.
“Further incidents could potentially jeopardize Anadarko’s plans for an onshore processing facility,” he said in an emailed note Friday. “Beyond the short-term disruption to operations, the attack could delay Anadarko’s final investment decision on its Rovuma Basin assets until the second half of the year.”
Anadarko is expected to spend at least $20 billion on its project in Palma, near the Tanzanian border, where more than 100 people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed since a shadowy insurgency began in October 2017. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Eni SpA are also planning natural gas projects in the area.
Augusto Guta, a spokesman for the Mozambican police in northern Cabo Delgado province, said the authorities are investigating the incidents.
“Attacks occurred and we’re still gathering information,” Guta said by phone. “We’ll issue a statement after field work.”
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