Mauritania’s oil, energy and mines director, Moustapha Bechir, has stated that Exxon Mobil is near to signing a deal to explore for oil and gas offshore Mauritania, its first foray into the West African country. Declining to comment on the deal, an Exxon Mobil spokeswoman said the Texas-based company does not yet have drilling activities in Mauritania.
Since big discoveries by Cairn Energy and Kosmos Energy, interest has increased in oil and gas fields offshore of Mauritania and its neighbor, Senegal. Over the last three years, Senegal now partners with BP in separate projects. Early next decade, both are expected to start production.
A major gas project is already being developed by London-based BP and France’s Total has bought into several exploration licences in both countries. Moustapha Bechir said that terms of three blocks have been agreed upon.
Speaking on the sidelines of an Oil & Gas Council conference in Dakar, he said the deal is yet to be formally signed between them and Exxon but would do soon.
The deep waters there as described by experts is the next big edge in energy drilling but the actual size of the deposits is yet to be known. By next year, BP plans to make a final investment decision on a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project that would transport West African gas worldwide.
Senegal’s and Mauritania’s oil and gas was discovered by new technology that has given companies a better idea of what lies under the sea bed. Specialist firms are now trawling the deep waters making seismic tests to determine what is below.
Also interested in teaming up with oil producers to develop the resources are oil service companies such as Baker Hughes, now part of General Electric, Schlumberger, and others.