Unidentified gunmen attacked an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. convoy near its liquefied natural gas project in northern Mozambique, the first targeting an energy company since an insurgency by suspected Islamist militants began 16 months ago.
At least four people were injured in the raid, the company said in an emailed statement. About 15 gunmen dressed in black opened fire on a convoy, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported, citing a person it didn’t identify. The company’s shares extended losses, falling as much as 3.7 percent to $43.49 in New York.
The incident is “very significant” and may signal a shift in tactics by the insurgents, according to Eric Morier-Genoud, a senior lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast and an expert on Mozambique’s history.
“It is the first time an oil and gas company is attacked,” he said in reply to emailed questions. “The attack also shows a change of modus operandi of the insurgents. They were 15 men to attack a convoy and they were all dressed in black. This has never been seen — numbers, dress code, and an attack on a main road.”
The four wounded are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, Anadarko said.
Based in The Woodlands, Texas, Anadarko is expected to spend at least $20 billion on its massive LNG project in Palma, near the Tanzanian border, where more than 100 people have been killed in an insurgency that’s also destroyed hundreds of homes. Up to now, the suspected Islamist militants have mainly targeted coastal villages and the government. Last month, the company published an advertisement in a local newspaper asking for vehicles with armor heavy enough to stop AK-47 bullets.“In order to ensure readiness for operations, there is an immediate need” for the vehicles, Anadarko said in the ad.
The project would be Mozambique’s first onshore LNG facility, initially producing almost 13 million tons a year. Anadarko is targeting a final investment decision in the first half of the year after announcing a handful of new contracts over the past few weeks.
“We are still working to gather information and are actively monitoring the situation,” Anadarko said. “We are in close contact with government authorities to ensure appropriate measures are in place to protect our workforce.”