Mauritania’s DG of Hydrocarbons, Petroleum, Energy and Mines Shares Progress of Nouakchott Energy Hub and Infrastructure Revamp


Could you kindly give us a brief overview of Mauritania’s strategic assets?

Mauritania’s strategic advantages include its favorable geographical location close to Europe, vast surface area, and extensive coastline spanning over 600 kilometers.

These factors, coupled with the country’s abundant renewable energy potential in solar and wind and huge gas and mining resources, provide us with all the necessary components to actively contribute to the energy transition. Our ministry’s current vision revolves around establishing Mauritania as an integrated hub for low-carbon and green energy, enabling the green steel industry. We aim to develop a green industry, particularly in steel production, leveraging the expertise of SNIM, our national mining company. Our goal is to position Mauritania as a leader in sustainable energy and promote the growth of environmentally friendly industries.

What are the specific benefits of developing a dedicated area for the energy sector and related industries in Mauritania?

It enables us to leverage our assets and play a crucial role in the energy transition. Our goal is to establish Mauritania as a hub for green industries, focusing on priority projects like gas and energy, including green hydrogen. The chosen location, Nouakchott, will be developed in stages, building upon existing infrastructure and the expertise gained over the years. By creating a platform of services for the emerging energy and gas sector, we facilitate its rapid growth and contribute to our integrated vision, including local content. Our objectives encompass clean energy production, establishing a low-carbon gas industry, promoting environmentally-friendly mining practices, and implementing green initiatives across industries.

As an economic growth pole, the zone will serve as a catalyst for foreign direct investment and offer the local private sector the opportunity to become more involved in the development of specialized services related to gas and energy activities, promote job creation, and transfer skills and expertise. As an engine of growth par excellence, the dedicated zone for the energy sector will contribute to creating sustainable and inclusive economic development in Mauritania.

Can you provide insights into the size of the hub and whether there are any plans to establish special economic benefits or advantages within the designated zone?

20 hectares of virgin land south of the port of Nouakchott have been earmarked as potential sites for the zone. The size of the zone is scalable and could be expanded should potential bidders require more space.

We are willing to develop a special framework to attract initial investors and set up a promotional regulatory framework that incentivizes service companies to settle within the dedicated zone and the country as a whole. Collaboration with the Ministry of Economy, the Nouakchott port, and a consortium of consulting cabinets is underway to conduct the study, prepare the documentation, and launch the process of selecting an operator to build and operate the dedicated zone. This study, lasting around 18 months from last November, will determine the most attractive financing and partnership schemes and identify any necessary regulatory changes for the zone. Our objective is to create an attractive zone that offers advantages to attract a wide range of participants.

Is there any plan to develop local content and maximize the involvement of local companies?

The establishment of the dedicated zone aims to create employment opportunities, enhance local content participation, and transfer skills to local companies. Through stakeholder workshops and engagement processes, we involve local partners and potential investors to shape the project and align it with their expectations. We also actively promote the project at global conferences like MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2023 to attract further interest and participation.

What about the financial aspects of projects, specifically regarding the production of low-carbon natural gas? How do you plan to achieve low-carbon gas production and attract investors to this ambitious green energy project that requires high-level skills, especially in the field of green hydrogen?

Financing is a significant challenge for the development of low-carbon natural gas projects and other cleaner initiatives in Africa and Mauritania. However, we believe gas resources can play a crucial role in the transition to cleaner energy sources. Currently, we are working on developing a code for green hydrogen to incentivize low-carbon energy. By 2030, we plan to have operational green hydrogen projects and a significant increase in gas usage while reducing heavy fuel oil consumption. We will also integrate more renewable energy sources into the electricity grid, aiming for a greater presence of clean energy in our overall energy mix by 2030.

How will Mauritania help refurbish the existing infrastructure to support the oil and gas developments?

Mauritania is addressing infrastructure needs for oil and gas developments in two key areas. Firstly, common infrastructure like ports and roads will require updates to accommodate upcoming projects, particularly in the field of hydrogen. Secondly, upstream infrastructure related to gas is being developed. Studies are underway for a pipeline that could serve NDiago, Nouakchott, and potentially Nouadhibou. Additionally, a study is being conducted for a power plant, starting with 300 megawatts and potentially expanding to 1,000 MW. This power plant will support projects in production by 2027-2028. These infrastructure efforts aim to support the growth of the oil and gas sector in Mauritania.

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Onur Yilmaz

Onur Yilmaz