Thursday, July 2, 2020

why France is pushing for the restart of the Total gas site

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The state supported the Yemen LNG gas liquefaction project with credit guarantees of € 216 million.

Time to Reading 3 min.

The Yemen LNG gas terminal in Balhaf, in the south-east of the country, in June 2010, a few months after it was commissioned. MOHAMMED HUWAIS / AFP

Pressure has been mounting for several months for Total to restart its Yemen LNG gas liquefaction plant, and to pay the Yemeni state the taxes it has been missing since the shutdown of the site in the spring of 2015 from the beginning. of the war.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, who are waging a war against the Houthi rebellion, while keeping the economy of the country under perfusion, urge the French group in this direction; Washington and Paris, supporters of the Gulf monarchies, do the same. The Yemeni government is not left out, just like the rebels, masters of the capital, Sana'a, who have posted posters asking for the revival of gas exports. But the factory does not restart.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Total site used as a prison in Yemen

French diplomacy, in particular, has been pushing for a few months for a quick reopening of the site. Officially to allow Yemen to return to an economic equilibrium. "It's a key element for restarting the country", notes a good connoisseur of the file. "The day the factory leaves, it means that Yemen is in a much better situation than it is today. " At Total, however, it is felt that the level of violence in the country makes such a project too risky. "We are told: restart, it will be safe. But we will only restart the activity when security is assured. It is a dialogue that can last a long time. "

A project of 4.3 billion euros

When it was running, the site accounted for around 45% of Yemen's tax revenue. At the launch of the project in 2009, the aim was to provide the country with an important infrastructure to export its gas internationally. Yemen LNG, a $ 4.8 billion project (4.3 billion euros), is the point of arrival of the gas produced in the Marib field by the Yemeni national company Safer, according to a contract signed for twenty years with Total, which operates the plant.

Read also Yemen: Government and separatists sign power-sharing agreement in the South

The gas is then liquefied at the site: it is cooled to -163 degrees to be transported by ship, particularly to South Korea and Japan. The Yemen LNG consortium is led by Total, which holds 39.6%, alongside Korean and Yemeni players.

If he resumed production, the group would be hard pressed to know who to pay the taxes due to the authorities, as the situation in the country is complex.

Paris, however, behind the scenes, intends to limit the financial exposure of France, which guaranteed loans related to the project. If Yemen LNG was unable to restart, the consortium could fail and the French State should then pay part of the bill. Questioned by The world, the Treasury recognizes that the subject is thorny but stresses that renegotiations of debts can still take place.

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