Lawyers in Mozambique are suing US fossil fuel giant Anadarko to block its planned US$20 billion gas project, arguing the land was illegally taken from locals, according to a statement published Friday.
Anadarko is one of the global companies investing billions of dollars to exploit major gas reserves discovered off Mozambique’s northeastern coast and the lawsuit could further delay operations already frustrated by jihadist attacks.
“As part of a legal monitoring project on land rights… we requested the Administrative Court annul the right to use land on an area of 6,475 hectares,” the Mozambique Bar Association said in statement posted on its website.
Hardline Islamists have launched several deadly attacks in the Muslim-majority, oil-rich Cabo Delgado province in the past year, stoking unrest just as Maputo pushes ahead with oil and gas development in the region.
Anadarko has previously said that Mozambique’s natural gas reserves, of which it has discovered 75 trillion cubic feet so far, “are among the best and the largest in the world”.
The bar association has said that a process of transferring land rights that began in 2012 and led to Anadarko being granted an exploration concession was illegal.
“The process of awarding the right to use the land did not respect the principle of public consultation,” it said.
Anadarko Mozambique did not respond to a request for comment.