Middle East / Africa

Mauritania flag
Summary | Profile

Country profile: Mauritania

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara
Climate: desert; constantly hot, dry, dusty
Terrain: mostly barren, flat plains of the Sahara; some central hills
Size: 1030700 sq. km total (Land area: 1030400 sq. km  Water area: 300 sq.km)
Population: 3,364,940 (July 2008 est.)
Languages: Arabic (official), Pulaar, Soninke, French, Hassaniya, Wolof
Government: Democratic Republic
Capital city: Nouakchott
Legal system: a combination of Islamic law and French civil law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Currency: ouguiya (MRO)
Licensing:

Country profile

Mauritania, located on the northwest coast of Africa, gained its independence from France in 1960. In August 2005, a bloodless coup ousted President Taya, who had come to power in a coup in 1984, and installed a military council led by Colonel Ely Ould Mohamed Fal. The military council has stated its intention of remaining in power for up to two years while it works to create a democratic institution and hold organized elections. Under former President Taya, the Mauritanian government worked to reduce poverty, improve the health and education systems and promote privatization of government-owned businesses.

Historically, Mauritania has experienced economic growth from the iron ore and fishing industries. However, in February 2006, Mauritania began producing oil for the first time, and oil stand to bolster future economic growth in the country. Mauritania's real gross domestic product (GDP) grew an estimated 5.4 percent in 2005 and is projected to grow by 26.0 percent in 2006. Currently, Mauritania is the poorest country in the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) which includes the countries Morocco , Tunisia , Algeria and Libya . Mauritania’s per capita income is only $443, with almost 30 percent of the population living on less than $1 a day, and 69 percent living on less than $2 a day. Despite government reforms set in place since 1992, Mauritania still experiences occasional periods of high inflation. In the second half of 2004, prices rose because of food shortages, bringing the inflation rate for the year to 10.1 percent. In 2005, due in part to high oil prices, inflation remained high at 14.0 percent. An 8.0 percent inflation rate is forecast for 2006.

In 2002, Mauritania completed the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative. This led to debt relief of $1.1 billion, which almost halved Mauritania's net debt burden. Despite its improving economic environment, Mauritania remains vulnerable to several sources of instability. With an economy strongly reliant upon primary products (mining, fishing, and agriculture), fluctuations in international markets, as well as external shocks like weather, can have a profound impact on Mauritania. In 2006, the U.S. government removed Mauritania from eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) , due to not meeting requirements set forth under the act. To maintain eligibility status for the AGOA, African countries are required to have established, or be working towards the establishment of various reforms set forth under section 506A(a)(1) of the AGOA, which include market-based economies, the rule of law and political pluralism, protection of human rights and worker rights and policies to reduce poverty.

Energy
In February 2006, Mauritania began producing its first oil from the Chinguetti oilfield , which is located offshore 56 miles southwest of Nouakchott. The field has estimated proven reserves of 123 million barrels of oil. Currently, the field is producing around 15,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), but output is expected to reach capacity of 75,000 bbl/d by the end of 2006. Woodside Petroleum operates the Chinguetti field with a 47.38 percent interest and is joined with partners Hardman Resources (19.01 percent), Mauritanian-government controlled Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures (12 percent), BG Group (10.23 percent), Premier Oil (8.12 percent) and Roc Oil (3.25 percent). The Mauritanian government created the national oil company in 2004.

In addition to Chinguetti field, Mauritania possesses several other promising offshore oil and gas fields. The Tiof oilfield, which is located 16 miles north of the Chinguetti field, may contain up to 350 million barrels of oil. The Tiof-6 exploration well was drilled successfully in February 2005. Woodside and its partners believe that the field may start producing at 50,000 bbl/d in mid-2007, with production potentially rising to 150,000 bbl/d in 2008. The Banda field, located 12 miles east of Nouakchott, may contain natural gas reserves of 3-5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), while the Pelican natural gas field is estimated to hold 1 to 1.5 Tcf. UK-based Dana Petroleum is working with LNG operators to determine development options for the Pelican field.

With Mauritania's best offshore blocks under contract, other companies have lined up to explore onshore blocks, particularly in the Taoudeni Basin in the northeastern part of the Mauritanian desert. In January 2005, France's Total signed two production sharing contracts, covering nearly 22,394 square miles. Spain's Repsol, China National Petroleum Co. and Woodside Petroleum are among the companies that have been awarded Taoudeni blocks.

In March 2005, the Mauritanian government created a separate ministry of oil and energy to handle the energy portfolio. The ministry is headed by Mohamed Aly Ould Sidi Mohamed. In 2005, Mauritania imported 24,000 bbl/d of petroleum products, as its refinery is not in use. Mauritania also consumes a significant amount of "non-commercial" (i.e., wood, biomass) energy.

Energy production and consumption


Oil Gas
Production: 75,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)  
Consumption: 20,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)  
Exports:    
Imports: 19,960 bbl/day (2004 est.)  
Reserves:    
Major fields:



Mauritania - recent news

28 Aug 20
Mauritania: Shearwater receives Mauritania 3D exploration award from Total
Shearwater GeoServices has received an award for a large towed streamer 3D acquisition and Fast Track processing project by Total E&P Mauritania. The exploration survey covers 6,000 sq km in the C15 and C31 Blocks.
26 Jul 20
Mauritania: ION announces first 3D multi-client program in Mauritania
ION Geophysical has announced the first 3D multi-client program in Mauritania in partnership with the Ministry of Petroleum, Mines and Energy (MPME). ION will seamlessly integrate and reimage ~24,000 sq km of MPME-held 3D data and can expand the scope to include ~15,000 km of 2D data pending industry support.
08 Apr 20
Mauritania/Senegal: BP claims force majeure relating to the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim project
Golar LNG has received written notification of a force majeure claim from BP Mauritania Investments under the Lease and Operate Agreement between the Company and BP relating to the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim project, located offshore Mauritania and Senegal.
27 Feb 20
Mauritania: Maersk Decom wins contract for complete plugging and abandonment of Tullow Oil’s Banda and Tiof fields
Maersk Decom has won a contract to provide an end-to-end plugging and abandonment solution under one single contract for Tullow Oil's Banda and Tiof fields, offshore Mauritania.
12 Feb 20
Mauritania/Senegal: Greater Tortue Ahmeyim Sale and Purchase Agreement signed with BP Gas Marketing
Kosmos Energy and its partners have signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with BP Gas Marketing for 2.45 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of liquified natural gas (LNG) from Phase 1 of the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim project for an initial term of up to 20 years.

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