Mozambique Appoints New Oil Company Head as Gas Bonanza Beckons

Mozambique appointed a new chairman of the state oil company, months before decisions are due on projects that could make the country the world’s third-biggest liquefied natural gas exporter.

President Filipe Nyusi on Tuesday said Omar Mitha, a former bank economist and deputy minister, will run Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos, or ENH.

Mozambique has enough gas to be the third-largest supplier of gas chilled to liquid for shipment, according to Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which has said it targets a final decision on whether to develop a project in the country before year-end. Woodlands, Texas-based Anadarko estimates it has 100 trillion cubic feet of gas in its concession off the north-eastern coast.

Eni SpA has the rights to a neighboring resource and the Rome-based company is working with Anadarko to develop the infrastructure needed for gas liquefaction. Gas projects in Mozambique could absorb as much as $100 billion in investment in the next decade, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Mitha replaces Nelson Ocuane, chairman of ENH since 2007. Mitha was appointed deputy trade and industry minister in January by Nyusi, who won October elections. Mitha is a native of Cabo Delgado, the province that is Nyusi’s home region and the location of Anadarko and Eni’s projects. Mitha was previously chief economist at Millennium Bim, Mozambique’s largest commercial bank.

ENH holds a 15 percent stake in the Anadarko-led project and 10 percent of Eni’s venture. A petroleum law passed last year states that ENH must have at least a 10 percent share in any new oil and gas projects.

Mozambique’s oil and gas industry regulator, the Instituto Nacional de Petroleo, also gained a new chairman Tuesday as former exploration manager Carlos Zacarias replaced Arsenio Mabote.

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