(Adds details on Couto's new position)
MAPUTO, Sept 29 Mozambique Energy Minister Pedro
Couto has been sacked, the presidency said on Thursday, a month
before Italy's Eni is due to finalise an offshore gas
project worth tens of billions of dollars.
No reason was given for the dismissal of Couto, who had held
the energy portfolio since January 2015. A separate statement
said he had been appointed as president of Mozambique's Cahora
Bassa hydroelectric power company.
The southern African state discovered offshore gas reserves
six years ago amounting to some 85 trillion cubic feet, one of
the largest finds in a decade and enough to supply Germany,
Britain, France and Italy for nearly two decades.
The gas offers Mozambique an opportunity to transform itself
from one of the world's poorest countries into a middle-income
state and a major global liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter.
Negotiations with operators Eni and U.S. firm Anadarko
have dragged on for years due to disputes over terms and
concerns about falling energy prices. However, there have been
several signs of significant progress in recent months.
Eni met with bankers in London last week about project
financing to develop the Coral field, a significant step in
getting the first of a series of long-delayed LNG projects off
Eni struck a deal in July with Samsung Heavy as
part of a consortium with France's Technip and Japan's
JGC to build a floating LNG platform in a deal worth
around $5.4 billion.
Exxon Mobil is close to buying into Eni's
Mozambique's assets, sources told Reuters last month.
(Reporting by Manuel Mucari, writing by Joe Brock, editing by