Qatar Guld News: by Matthew Hill and Paul Burkhardt. At a restaurant overlooking the bay of Maputo in December, Pedro Couto, one of Mozambique’s top energy lawyers, was having a drink with a friend when he made the prediction: Finally, his country was going to realize its ambition to become a $60 billion force in the natural-gas market.
“We were all excited about 2020,” Couto, 48, said in an interview last week. “Everything did look like it was going to be a great year.”
Construction was beginning in earnest after mammoth discoveries off the northern coast a decade ago. A new airport and roads had started to frame projects that would transform one of the world’s poorest countries. Production wells were on the brink of being drilled along with early development of onshore facilities to super-cool gas into liquid for export.
But the rigs have been sent away and the sites are quiet, and it’s not just because of the coronavirus pandemic. Plans by companies including Total SA and Exxon Mobil Corp. are threatened on three fronts — each devastating in their own right.