Will Mauritania's gas extricate Europe from the clutches of the energy crisis?  - energy

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Mauritania’s gas can become an ideal alternative to compensate for the expected shortfall in European supplies from Russia, thanks to its strategic location near the countries of the continent, and its enjoyment of huge reserves of natural gas and liquefied gas.

The gas crisis in Europe has supported Mauritania’s hopes of developing 100 trillion cubic feet of gas discovered off its common border with northern Senegal.

The British giant BP and its US partner Kosmos, which are developing the large Torto Ahmeim LNG project, agree on the importance of developing a large part of the assets, sooner rather than later.

The second stage of the Tortue field

“We have a lot of options to provide gas to help Europe, from the Tortue field in Mauritania and Senegal,” said BP’s chief financial officer, Murray Ochenkloss.

He added, “Work on the first phase is continuing. We are looking forward to the second phase that will help supply gas to Europe.”

It was expected to start production from the first phase of the project – which has an investment cost of $4.8 billion – in 2022, but due to the repercussions of the Corona epidemic, BP announced force majeure and postponed the date until 2023.

Mauritania Gas
Gas exploration in the Orto field off the coasts of Mauritania and Senegal

“We are pleased with the progress made in the Tortue field and look forward to expanding our business there, we just need to complete ongoing negotiations with the government, partners and suppliers,” said Bernard Looney, CEO of the company, according to a report seen by the specialist energy platform.

The Tortue field was discovered in 2015, in the C8 block in Mauritanian offshore waters, after drilling the Tortue 1 exploration well at a marine depth of 2.7 km, and gas was detected at a depth of 117 meters.

Production from the Torto field of liquefied gas

The field, which will become operational in late 2023, is expected to produce 2.5 million tons per year of LNG in its first phase.

The second phase of the project aims to double production to 5 million tons per year, which represents only half of the planned capacity of 10 million tons per year, and one-sixth of the 30 million tons (10 million tons per year of each phase), which BP and Cosmos claim the capacity of the Mauritanian-Senegalese field on its production.

The first phase of the Tortu Ahmeim LNG project will see gas and condensate sent from a deep-water production system to a floating production, storage and offloading plant, to treat well fluids.

“We continue to work closely with BP, governments and national oil companies, to improve the development blueprint in terms of production volume and timing,” says US Cosmos.

She added, “Work in the field is progressing, and we expect a decision to develop the second phase in the middle of this year.”

The advantages of Mauritania gas

Kosmos had previously expected to develop the second phase of the project in 2026.

On the other hand, the financial director of BP, Murray Uchenklaus, said that the gas crisis in Europe confirmed the need to complete the development stages of the project to produce more than 5 million tons annually, according to the Natural Gas Intel website, which was reviewed by the specialized energy platform.

The second phase of the project was to add 3.75 million tons annually, followed by a third phase with the same production capacity, but production was reduced to 2.5 million tons annually, as a result of reducing costs in 2020, with the global rise in oil prices and revenues.

BP and Cosmos now have a strong solvency, which allows them to invest in projects with long-term returns rather than the need for a positive short-term cash flow.

Kosmos expects the second phase of the Torto field to achieve lucrative returns, with the price of natural gas in Europe approaching $6/MMBtu.

Mauritania Gas
Natural gas exploration – archive

The American company believes that the low exploration, production and shipping costs give the gas discovered from Mauritania and Senegal an additional advantage over US supplies, in addition to a sailing time of 5 to 6 days to northwest Europe, less than half the shipping time from the American Gulf and the eastern coast of the United States, which usually takes about 12 to 15 days.

This comes in addition to the low cost of shipping, which can reach approximately one dollar per million thermal units, according to a report by the American magazine Mace, seen by the specialized energy platform.

The LNG extracted from the Tortue field is of high quality, as it is virtually CO2 free.

gas crisis in europe

The gas crisis in Europe has focused attention on the development of gas fields that were discovered in the short term, such as the fields of Mauritania and Senegal, but concerns remain. From the energy transition, and the migration of major companies for oil and gas investments.

The European Union has been seeking to reduce its imports of Russian gas since the Russian attack on Ukraine last February, but the matter may develop into a complete ban with Russia’s blackmailing of the continent’s countries and their demands to pay gas dues in rubles, which Europe has refused to comply with so far.

During 2021, the European Union imported 155 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas, which represents about 45 percent of Europe’s gas imports, and nearly 40 percent of its total consumption, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency.

Some of them expect that global demand for gas may reach its peak within a decade from now, and perhaps less than that for oil, which has affected the attractiveness of long-term exploration operations that may achieve returns within decades, and push major companies to exit these projects.

The large Torto Ahmeim LNG project between Mauritania and Senegal operates with an offshore system that connects 4 gas production wells with a floating unit for production, storage and offloading.

The floating unit treats the gas produced to remove heavy hydrocarbons, prior to transfer to the LNG vessel.

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