London-listed Chariot Energy Group has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands for the import of up to 600,000 tons of green hydrogen per annum to be produced via the proposed 10 GW Project Nour in Mauritania. With this new agreement, the project has the potential to become the largest green hydrogen export operation in Africa, servicing European markets with a stable supply.
After the announcement, a coalition between Dutch state-owned network operator, Gasunie and bulk handling firm, HES International as well as tank storage specialist, Vopak was formed for the development of a new world-class import terminal for green ammonia– the chemical compound in which hydrogen is stored for transport – in Rotterdam. This new terminal will be situated in the Maasvlakte port and industrial facility, scheduled to commence operations in 2026.
On the Mauritanian side, Project Nour advances slowly but surely having gained surety by way of an earlier MoU signed between Chariot and Mauritania’s Ministry of Petroleum, Mines and Energy in late September 2021. This granted Chariot exclusive rights to two onshore licenses and one offshore wind tract over a 14,400km2 area – the power generation from which will support the electrolysis process that separates hydrogen from fresh water. This fresh water will itself arrive from a coastal desalination plant also powered by solar and wind farms with the final green hydrogen project returning to the coast and specifically the Nouadhibou deep seaport.
Currently, feasibility studies are underway to assess costs as well as social and environmental impacts of Project Nour prior to commencement. This will be done together with investigating the potential disruption to local communities and disruptions to bird migration routes. However, once this stage is complete, the road will be cleared for development, pending only investment.
At the end of October 2021, CEO Adonis Pouroulis confirmed that the firm will aim to form a consortium of high-level players as co-developers, promising an announcement of partners within five months. No such announcement has yet been made, though Chariot continues to assure that it is in talks with big energy firms as potential partners. Chariot has a strong relationship with the Mauritanian government, having worked there and having its founding shareholder, Pella Resources, leading in the country’s gold and iron ore mining sector. The government of Mauritania is on track for the development of decarbonized energy sources, boasting the highest per capita renewables power generation ratio of any MSGBC country at an impressive 27.535 watts.
As the energy transition increases pace and investor sentiment swings in its favor, Nouakchott could rise among west Africa’s energy capitals as Chariot and others recognize Mauritania’s capacity to lead in solar and wind power generation, combined with advantageous proximity to markets in Europe, as well as regionally across west Africa. Chariot dropped ‘oil and gas’ from the company name in 2021, undergoing a full-scale rebranding to redirect its resources away from its historical center in the upstream sector and towards the energies of the future. With the energy tides turning, green hydrogen could be Africa’s answer to cost-effective energy for sustainable local economic development.