Mozambique offshore gas fields huge opportunity for country, Italian PM says

By Angelo Amante and Francesca Landini

MILAN (Reuters) -The gas fields discovered offshore Mozambique represent a huge opportunity for the development of the African country, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said during a visit with the head of Italian energy group Eni.

Speaking after a meeting with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, Meloni said state-controlled Eni was the best example of the economic cooperation between Italy and Mozambique.

“We agree with the president of Mozambique that the fields discovered off the northern coast of Mozambique are a huge opportunity for the development of this nation and also for strengthening our relationship,” Meloni said.

The gas field located in Mozambique’s offshore Rovuma basin, called Coral field, is estimated to hold 500 billion cubic metres of natural gas.

Eni is the operator of the Coral South floating liquefied natural gas project (LNG), which made the impoverished country a global producer and exporter of LNG from November.

The Italian group jointly owns more than two-thirds of the project together with Exxon Mobil and China’s CNPC. Portuguese energy firm Galp, Korean Gas Corp. and Mozambique’s state oil company ENH are the minority partners with 10% each.

Eni hopes to reach a final investment decision on a second floating LNG project to exploit the Coral field by the end of June next year, two sources directly involved with the project told Reuters this week.

Meloni on Friday also said that 70% of Italy’s climate fund, or about 3 billion euros ($3.16 billion), will be reserved for Africa.

“Europe has an energy supply problem while Africa is potentially a huge producer of energy. If we put the two things together we can build a different future of cooperation between our continents about energy but … also about raw materials,” the prime minister said.

Italy will host an Italy-Africa conference at the beginning of next year, Meloni said, adding that the government would present its new cooperation strategy for the continent during the conference.

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(Reporting by Angelo Amante and Francesca Landini, editing by Alvise Armellini and David Evans)