The Government is finalizing the signing of a multimillion-dollar supply contract after the discovery last year of large hydrocarbon reserves in the African country, which is presenting itself as an alternative to Russia. The Canary Islands, 900 km away, are the most likely entry route

Mauritania has gone from being, overnight, one of the poorest countries on the African continent to a country whose wealth emanates from its infertile and dry soil. These are energy supplies that, at the moment, are looking for a buyer. Specifically Last year, several pockets of oil were discovered under the arid land of the country, with a storage capacity of up to 20 million barrels of oil.

On the other hand, between Senegal and Mauritania, the same year, a huge gas pocket was found of up to 15 trillion cubic feet that extend across 33,000 square kilometers, that is, enough supply to produce energy for the next 30 years. curiously 2022 is the scheduled date for the start of its exploitation, according to sources from the Mauritanian Government. At the same time, this same year, between 2022 and 2023, the production of the liquefied natural gas plant in the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) basin, located on the border with Senegal, will come into operation, according to the Mauritanian Minister of Petroleum, Abdeslam uld Mohamed Saleh.

The field could be producing up to 10 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year, for a total cost of 4.2 billion euros, something that, according to the minister, is "one of the deepest projects in the world, so "It requires the use of new technologies that will be used for the first time."

However, the thing does not stop there. The American energy company Kosmos Energy announced in 2021 the discovery of another of the largest gas pockets on the Mauritanian coast – Bir Allah – that would contain around 50 trillion European cubic feet. In fact, in this strip the energy company Kosmos owns 28% of Block C8, compared to 62% of British Petroleum (BP) and 10% of the Mauritanian state company SMHv. The delivery was carried out very quickly. BP assumes the bulk of the exploitation and plans to liquefy a large part on the ground, having two destinations: it will be transported to the purchasing countries by specialized ships, and the other part will be transported to land by gas pipelines that will be used to produce electricity in the neighbor. Senegal and in Mauritania.

According to the Mauritanian sociologist Babacar Diop, «most people are not aware of the importance of this discovery and what it can mean for their lives». These findings turn the tables on a country that is currently struggling between poverty and aspirations to be one of the main hydrocarbon exporting countries in the coming years, even putting the environment and the environment at risk. impact that the exploitation of these resources will have on local fishing.

Excellent relationship with Spain

At this time, Mauritania, whose economy depended on the mining sector, has turned its sights towards new possibilities such as, for example, the export of energy supplies to European countries, among which would be Spain. According to sources from the Mauritanian Government, they tell LA RAZÓN, the country is currently in a negotiation process to export gas and oil to Spain and therefore to Europe.

In fact, in recent weeks and coinciding with the arrival of the Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Ghazouani to our country on March 16Just four days ago, the Mauritanian delegates in Spain had different meetings, including a private interview with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, during these days, the diplomatic staff of the embassy is making multiple trips that transit from the Cartagena refinery (in Murcia) to the Canary Islands. Two reference points for the export and import of gas and oil.

As explained to this newspaper by an analyst from the Ministry of Defense whose identity cannot be revealed, "to the Canary Islands – which is only 900 kilometers from the Mauritanian coast – the gas does not arrive liquefied, it arrives by marine pipeline, by gas pipeline. In the event that this agreement occurs, The most logical thing is that it would be taken from Mauritania to the Canary Islands and from the Canary Islands to the peninsula", through the gas pipeline. which in turn connects the Canary Islands with the Iberian Peninsula, in Huelva.

In fact, more than 3,000 Mauritanians currently reside on the islands, to which we must add that there are more than 60 Canarian companies established and linked to the economic development of Mauritania. Until now, the African country has acted as a provider of goods and services, either at a retail level or on a large business scale, as is the case with the Canadian mining company Kinross, for example. In turn, Mauritania is among the first economic partners of the Canary archipelago on the African continent. Specifically, Spain is the second country in the European Union, preceded by France, with the best trade relations maintains with Mauritania.

According to the latest data available from the Foreign Trade Institute (ICEX), Spain's exports to Mauritania experienced a growth of 156% between 2010 and 2019, well above the average growth with Africa (which stood at 79%). However, the trade balance with the African country has shown a deficit trend since 2015. In 2020, the export volume was 118 million euros, representing a decrease of 42% compared to the previous year and placing Mauritania in position 94 in the customer ranking. Imports for the same period fell to 201 million, 32% less than the previous year, with Mauritania being Spain's 82nd supplier.

Taking advantage of the fact that the Mauritanian government also has a border with Morocco, it would not be unreasonable to think that the process of importing these energy supplies by Spain, such as gas, would also be carried out through the Medgaz gas pipeline, which links the Maghreb and Europe. On the other hand, the capital of Mauritania, Nouakchott, is located in the coastal area of the country, thus having direct access to the ocean. Free way to the Canary Islands.

However, sources from the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge of Spain assure this newspaper that, At this time, "there is no signed agreement to import gas and oil from Mauritania. Another thing is that they are talking to specific companies and refineries in the African country. In short, the very high gas prices and concerns about the security of supply at the European level derived from Russia's invasion of Ukraine have transformed the energy perspectives in the short and medium term to meet the demands of what could be a new energy partner, Mauritania.

Supply Distribution

Although the most likely option would be supply by gas pipeline, first to the Canary Islands and then to the peninsula, Spain is the country in Europe with the most regasification plants – it has up to 25% of plants of this type in Europe – and has the capacity to take on large quantities of liquefied gas. This is why Mauritania is positioned as one of the main "partners" when it comes to transporting all that gas, and in one year it could become a major exporter for Europe.

Furthermore, as the Defense analyst assures, «relations between Spain and Mauritania are very good. In fact, President Pedro Sánchez's first trip after the pandemic was to Mauritania –in the context of the G5 summit in the Sahel, as well as to deliver medical supplies to the country– but obviously, if what Mauritania claims materializes, it would change the course of the country and it would stop being one of the poorest. from Africa".

Source: La Razón