16.08 2018

Mauritania and oil : the outsider of the Maghreb?

Mauritania
Photo Mauritania and oil : the outsider of the Maghreb?

Since February 2006, Mauritania has officially become an oil producing country. The authorities have discovered a significant number of deposits whose total is estimated at 950 million barrels. Numbers that can harbour the huge ambitions for the sector and attract plenty of investors even if the first tests were not really conclusive.

The Mauritanian government get the measure of ensuring a more investor-friendly environment and boost the sector. Mauritania may soon compete with major Maghreb producers like Tunisia or Egypt.

Oil sector, a missed takeoff !

Since its launch, the Mauritanian oil sector has not really experienced moments of glory and is at the worst in the image of the oil field "Chinguetti" whose production plummets day by day. Far from forecasts made of about 40,000 barrels of oil per day, we find ourselves today at a production in decrescendo estimated at about 4,000 barrels / days. These results reflect the failed takeoff by the oil sector in Mauritania.

At the end of last year, investor groups Tullow Oil, Sterling and Petronas decided to withdraw from Chinguetti field. These withdrawals result in the inevitable closure of the offshore oil field, which will have negative impacts on the country's GDP.

A new era for the oil sector

The reasons for the withdrawal of investor groups from the offshore oil field Chinguetti are known by the Mauritanian government. This is the lack of financial profitability due to a monthly production far from the initial forecasts and which has been declining for some time. If the authorities have not replied to investor demand for tax relief, they are now determined to create a favorable business climate to revive the sector.

Last December, the Mauritanian government and the Exxon Mobil company signed three research and oil and gas exploration contracts. The contracts concern the offshore blocks C14, C17 and C22, and will help to build the confidence of investors such as Tarek Bouchamoui, leader of the HBS International group in Tunisia.

The repercussion of the agreement of OPEC members

The actions of the Mauritanian government show a clear desire to revive the oil sector, which has struggled to take off for a long time. The collaboration with Exxon Mobil, the largest oil and gas company in the United States, and two other oil giants, Total and BP, will certainly pay dividends very soon. The Mauritanian oil sector will regain color and will benefit from the agreement of OPEC members to titillate the major oil producers of the Maghreb.

In fact, the OPEC agreement implies the reduction of oil production in the various member countries in order to rebalance the market. This approach will be successful and we will see the price of oil increase very rapidly. This result will benefit the Mauritanian oil sector with foreign investors like Tarek Bouchamaoui, who will have no restrictions in terms of production.