Must read of the Week! Deep-water Liquid Natural Gas project offshore Mozambique draws questions

A multibillion-dollar project is a pioneering project, but at least one analyst wonders if it’s worth the cost.

A multibillion-dollar floating production facility for liquefied natural gas could be a major win for Mozambique, though analyst sentiments were mixed.

Italian energy company Eni launched the implementation phase of its Coral South LNG project, a floating facility drawing in the gas reserves discovered by the company in the Rovuma basin off the coast of Mozambique in deep waters.

Claudio Descalzi, the chief executive officer at Eni, said the project is a win-win as it capitalizes on the emerging LNG sector while delivering returns to the economy of Mozambique.

“As the world transitions to a low-carbon energy mix, Eni believes that the use of gas is critical to achieving a more sustainable future,” he said in a statement.

Eni in 2015 discovered natural gas in a well in an area off the Mozambique coast thought to hold 85 trillion cubic feet of gas in place, adding it was eager to help Mozambique become a hub for LNG exports to Asian economies.

East African basins, led by reservoirs in Mozambique and Tanzania, are home to more than 25 percent of the natural gas discoveries made worldwide between 2010 and 2013.

Alasdair Reid, a regional research manager for consultant firm Wood Mackenzie, said the LNG project marks a first for deepwater developments and could generate more than $1.5 billion, before taxes, for the next 25 years.

“There is huge long-term potential for offshore gas in East Africa,” he said. “The region will see a big hike in investment over the next decade as gas becomes an increasingly important part of the global energy mix.”

The Italian energy company recognized that overall market conditions made the return on investment challenging, but the launch of Coral South was a testament to the quality of the regional gas fields. The project will be financed by more than a dozen international banks and Eni said construction costs are 60 percent covered.

Biraj Borkhataria, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said that even though Eni has a long-term deal for deliveries to BP from Coral South the price tag may be a deterrent.

“We believe investors remain skeptical about the returns on the Coral FLNG project, with the vessel alone set to cost around $4.5 billion and $5 billion,” he said in an emailed report.

Total capital spending is estimated at $7 billion and RBC said the real prize in the region is onshore LNG capabilities.

First gas from the Coral South project is expected by 2022.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Source: United Press International

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