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Africa Oil & Gas: Total To Boost Exploration In Mauritania

France’s supermajor Total said on Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with Mauritania for two new exploration and production contracts in the country’s deep offshore, amid growing interest from oil majors to explore the West African Atlantic basin.

Total will be the operator of blocks Blocks C15 and C31 with a 90-percent interest, while Mauritania’s state-owned energy firm Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier (SMHPM) will hold the remaining 10-percent stakes.

The two new blocks bring Total’s total block participation offshore Mauritania to five exploration licenses in this emerging hydrocarbons basin, the French company said.

“This agreement contributes to the implementation of Total’s strategy that aims to explore basins in proven yet underexplored petroleum systems,” Arnaud Breuillac, President Exploration & Production at Total, said in a statement. “The addition of these new blocks to our existing positions demonstrates our commitment to the development of the Mauritanian oil sector and will enhance Total’s presence in West Africa, one of the Group’s core exploration areas.”

Total also holds acreage in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Nigeria, and “the Mauritanian basin remains one of the most promising,” according to the supermajor, which plans to drill a well on one of its five blocks offshore Mauritania next year.

Total is the latest supermajor to commit to more exploration acreage offshore Mauritania. ExxonMobil signed last year production sharing contracts with the government of Mauritania for three deepwater offshore blocks, while Shell signed a similar deal in July this year for the exploration and potential future production of hydrocarbons in two offshore blocks. Kosmos and BP—partners in the offshore gas discovery Tortue that extends into Senegal and Mauritania waters—expect a final investment decision (FID) for the Greater Tortue project around the end of 2018 and are aiming for first gas in 2021.

Mauritania, Senegal, and sub-Saharan Africa are seen as promising oil prospects and many major companies have started to build up acreage there. Exxon hopes to make its next billion-barrel find in Africa.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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