MAPUTO– Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov has disclosed that the Russian company, Rosneft, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, hopes to begin exploring for natural gas off the central and northern Mozambican coast in the near future.

He said this during a media conference which took place here Wednesday following a working meeting with his Mozambican counterpart, Jose Pacheco, and a courtesy call on President Filipe Nyusi.

Rosneft is a partner of the American oil giant, ExxonMobil, and Mozambique’s own National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH) in three offshore blocks which were awarded during the Fifth Licensing Round held by the National Petroleum Institute (INP) in 2015.

Two of the blocks are in the Zambezi Delta, in the central part of the country, and the third is near the small port of Angoche, in the northern province of Nampula. In all the blocks, ExxonMobil has a 60 per cent stake, Rosneft 20 per cent and ENH the remaining 20 per cent.

Asked whether this consortium is about to break up, because of political differences between Washington and Moscow, Lavrov said his information is that the consortium is regularising its legal status so that it can start its work in Mozambique.

The consortium is drawing up its terms of reference, he said, and he expects technical questions to be discussed during a meeting in April in Maputo of the Mozambique-Russia joint bilateral commission.

If there were any disagreements between ExxonMobil and Rosneft, these should be discussed in the first place between the members of the consortium, said Lavrov.

We defend the principle that economic interests should not be influenced or affected by political questions. Let us see how the economic interests of the companies will or will not be affected by the political positions of the United States government, he added.

We have a common position with our Mozambican partners that the global priority is to create a single front in the struggle against terrorism, and to do this without any double standards, and not by using the fight against terrorist groups for geo-strategic and geopolitical purposes, Lavrov said.

Pacheco said that Mozambique also respects the separation of economic from political interests. Mozambique is open to working with Russia in energy and hydrocarbons,” he declared.