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Developing Mauritania’s Gas Potential

Image: NS Energy

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Since the discovery of a large deposit of natural gas offshore Mauritania in 2015 by deepwater exploration and production company, Kosmos, interest in the region has exploded, resulting in the development of the Tortue natural gas field. In December 2016, British multinational oil and gas giant, BP, partnered with Kosmos Energy, entering an agreement, and acquiring a 62% working interest, including operatorship, of Mauritania’s offshore blocks C-6, C-8, C-12, and C-13.

With first gas expected to be produced in the first half of 2023 with a 30-50-year production potential, the project is expected to provide a significant source of revenue for the west-African country and demonstrates BP’s commitment to investing in the development of Mauritania’s resources in a transparent, ethical, and sustainable way.

The Tortue liquefied natural gas (LNG) field offshore Mauritania constitutes part of the innovative, cross-border Greater Tortue Ahemyim (GTA) development, located on the maritime border between Mauritania and Senegal. At a depth of 2,850m, the GTA project contains an estimated 15 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas while constituting part of an approximately 33,000km acreage, covered by the agreements between BP and Kosmos, thought to contain between 50-100 tcf of gas.  

Phase 1 Final Investment Decision  

In December 2018, BP and its partners in the project, Kosmos Energy (28%), and National Oil Companies, Petrosen (5%), of Senegal, and the Société Mauritanienne Des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier (5%), of Mauritania, announced the Final Investment Decision (FID) for Phase 1 of the $4.8 billion GTA development. The project is the first major gas project to attain FID status in the greater collection of sub-basins along the coastline of the west-African countries of Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea-Conakry (MSBGC) and is expected to provide LNG for global export as well as domestic use for the region. 

The consortium has set targets for 80% completion of the project’s First Phase by the end of 2021. BP has secured the use of LNG carrier owner and operator, Golar LNG’s Gimmi floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) vessel under a 20-year agreement, with delivery expected by 2023. Located at a nearshore hub on the Mauritania-Senegal maritime border, the FLNG facility will be designed to produce approximately 2.5 million tons of LNG per year by 2025, with gas to be transferred from an ultra-deepwater subsea system and mid-water floating, production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel.

This year, BP initiated the construction phase of a 1km long LNG terminal, 10km from the coast, which will process gas situated 2,850m beneath the ocean floor, 125km offshore. This gas will be extracted from drilled wells and transported through flowlines towards the modular FLNG production system, where it will be made ready to export to European and other international markets, as well as for domestic use in the MSGBC region countries.

With first gas from the project due for 2023, BP and Kosmos Energy have reported that all major workstreams – the FPSO, FLNG vessel, hub terminal, and subsea infrastructure – are on track, following a year’s delay to the project due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Local Development 

Through its investments and project developments within the region, BP has demonstrated its commitment to engaging in the skills development of the local population of Mauritania. Training initiatives and long-term education programs are being developed between the multinational oil company as well as governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. 

In 2017, BP initiated the Mauritania Excellence Scholarship program, which supports students to participate in a four-year engineering course at the esteemed Grandes Écoles specialized learning institution in France, Morocco, and Tunisia. 

BP is also a founding member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global standard for the good governance of oil, gas, and mineral resources, that promotes the inclusive benefit of natural resources for all citizens within oil producing countries. In May 2018, BP organized and hosted the “Oil & Gas Governance – Learning from the Past” workshop in Mauritania’s capital city of Nouakchott, in partnership with the Oxford Center for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, to support and promote transparency in the country’s energy sector. 

The GTA project is one of the most ambitious LNG projects ever undertaken on the continent, and will facilitate the skills development of local engineers, technicians, logistics specialists, hospitality workers, and professionals in the transport, waste management, sanitation, and administrative sectors. This will provide opportunities for local employment and contribute significantly to the development of Mauritania’s economy.  

In addition to skills development, BP has indicated the facilitation of a biodiversity action plan, which will be extensively peer reviewed by scientists, with some suggesting that the company’s extractive plans may assist in the replenishment of wide sections of coral reef in the MSGBC Basin.  

Future Projections 

According to BP, demand for energy is expected to grow by approximately 30% between 2015 and 2030, which will be met by the growing supply of natural gas and renewable energy developments.  

Set to become a world-class LNG hub, Mauritania now boasts one of the largest proven natural gas reserves per capita in Africa. Within the coming decades, the Government of Mauritania, a country with a GDP of $7.6 billion, has indicated its desire to contribute an additional $19 billion in government revenues from the GTA project. 

As the deepest subsea project ever undertaken by BP, spread over an area of 33,000km2, and with a production potential of 30 to 50 years, BP has indicated that the GTA field will become one of the most competitive brownfield – when a company purchases or leases existing facilities – LNG expansion projects in the world. 

In response to growing demand for renewable power, and increasing interest by international stakeholders to invest, develop, and succeed in Africa, Energy Capital & Power will hold the  MSGBC Oil, Gas, & Power 2021 conference and exhibition on the 13-14 December 2021. Focused on enhancing regional partnerships, spurring investment and development in the oil, gas and power sectors, the conference will unite regional international stakeholders with African opportunities, serving as a growth-oriented platform for Africa’s energy sector.

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Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen is a Video Editor and Content Writer at Energy Capital & Power. He holds an Honours Degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and is currently undergoing his Masters Degree. Born in Pretoria and raised internationally, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.

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