Mozambique could earn $5.2 billion (R43.4bn) a year from natural gas by 2026 and the sector could create more than 70 000 jobs, the Minerals Minister Esperanca Bias said yesterday.

The nation’s 130 trillion cubic feet reserves of liquefied natural gas (LNG) could sustain the construction of 10 LNG plants over the next decade, and the gas could be exported to the Far East, according to the “Natural Gas Master Plan”, which Bias presented in Maputo.

Current reserves are mostly in concessions of US-based Anadarko and Italy’s ENI, but they are barely half of what might eventually be extracted, with at least 150 trillion cubic feet still to be discovered, the plan estimates.

The plan sketches out how authorities can harness gas that could by 2026 bring as much as $5.2bn a year into state coffers if managed well.

“It is a tool that will guide us as a government… enabling the elaboration of the use and development of natural gas resources so that the benefits can be maximised for Mozambique’s society,” Bias said.

The gas industry alone could generate more than 70 000 jobs in the long term, mostly for professionals or technicians, the plan projected, although this would not solve the wider problem of unemployment for unskilled labour.

Authorities ponder a Norway-style sovereign wealth fund or a national development bank owned by the government to share the wealth. – Sapa-AFP