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Saipem to restart Mozambique LNG project for Total in July

A Saipem logo in seen on the bridge of the Saipem 10000 deepwater drillship in Genoa's harbour

MILAN (Reuters) - Saipem has agreed to restart a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique for TotalEnergies in July, the chief executive of the Italian energy services group said on Tuesday.

The project, which would be the first onshore development of a LNG plant in the African country, was frozen in 2021 due to security issues. The contract has a value of 3.5 billion euros ($3.72 billion) for the Italian group.

"We expect to gradually restart the (Mozambique) project, according to the information received by our clients, starting from July this year," Saipem CEO Alessandro Puliti said during a call on the group's results for 2022.

Puliti said that Saipem did not have direct information about the human rights and security situation of the Cabo Delgato Province where the project will be located.

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Earlier this month TotalEnergies mandated Jean-Christophe Rufin, an expert in humanitarian action and human rights, to carry out an independent mission to assess the humanitarian situation in the province before taking a decision on a restart of operations.

"We do not have direct visibility on the report on human rights, but we agreed with Total about restarting in July... this implies that our client is confident to solve potential pending issues by that date," Puliti said.

On Tuesday Total told Reuters it would wait for a human rights assessment commissioned by Rufin before announcing any restart of the project.

The French company added it did not yet have a date for when it would receive the report, after an initial estimate of end-February.

Lorette Philippot, campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, said it was not possible that negative consequences of the project for the climate and people would be solved by the summer.

"The situation on the ground is critical: the gas industry has been central to the brutal conflict that has created 1 million internal refugees," Philippot said.

($1 = 0.9418 euros)

(Reporting by Francesca Landini in Milan and America Hernandez in Paris; Editing by Toby Chopra)